Linguine with Clam Sauce and Vegetables

This new spin on an old classic pairs fresh, creamy clams in a buttery, garlic-wine sauce with a medley of sautéed vegetables. Served over fresh pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, this heartwarming dish is perfect for an Autumn luncheon.

Yield: 6 first-course servings

2 doz. cherrystone clams or 1 doz. quahog clams, washed

1 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
8-10 asparagus spears, peeled, cut into 1" pieces
6-7 white mushrooms, chopped
1 med. zucchini, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lg. tomato, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" pieces

Clam Sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 med. onion, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. salt
1 lb. pasta (linguine or spaghetti)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 c. liquid from clam sauce

Garnish (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Shuck the clams, reserving the liquid. Use a tsp. to scrape the meat out of the shells. Add to reserved juices. Stir to remove sand. Lift clams one at a time, cut them in half with scissors, and place in a clean bowl. Let clam liquid rest, then pour it slowly over clam pieces, leaving behind residue. Set aside.

For the vegetables:
Heat oil and butter in a skillet. Add all vegetables except tomato. Add salt and pepper. Sauté over high heat for 2 minutes. Add tomato and toss lightly. Set aside.

Bring 5-6 qt. of water to a boil in a large kettle.

To make the clam sauce:
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add oregano and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds. Stir in juice of clams and wine. Boil gently for 7-8 minutes, uncovered. Add clams and pepper and boil. Set aside.

For the pasta:
Add 1 tsp. salt to boiling water in kettle. Add pasta and cook until done. Scoop out 6 oz. of pasta liquid and add to clams. Drain pasta and transfer to bowl. Add oil, salt, pepper and 1 c. juice from clam sauce. Mix well.

To serve:
Arrange pasta on 6 plates or a platter and spoon clam sauce on top. Arrange vegetables on top. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.

Recipe courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf, ©2001 Jacques Pépin