Spaghetti With Baby Clams and Arugula Pesto 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Feb 26, 2014

Arugula adds peppery and herbal notes to this easy-to-make version of spaghetti with clam sauce. The recipe makes more pesto than you'll need (any less would be too hard to process), so save the rest, refrigerated, for another use: maybe as a condiment for sandwiches or a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

Make Ahead: The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • For the pesto
  • 2 ounces (2 cups packed) arugula, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the pasta
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, for the cooking water
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti or linguine
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ounces canned baby clams, such as Roland brand (not drained)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


For the pesto: Combine the arugula and garlic in a mini food processor or blender; pulse until the greens are finely chopped. Add the cheese, the canola and extra-virgin olive oils, and the salt and pepper; process until smooth. The yield is 1/2 cup.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt, then the pasta, and cook according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the wine in a large, nonreactive saute pan over medium-high heat; cook until most of its alcohol burns off, about 2 minutes. (You'll be able to tell when you sweep your hand over the pan, toward you, and can't smell the wine.) Add the lemon juice, the clams and their can juices, the extra-virgin olive oil and the crushed red pepper flakes.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the saute pan. Reduce the heat under the saute pan to medium; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta well, then add to the saute pan along with 1/4 cup of the pesto (reserve the rest for another use). Return the pan to medium heat for 1 minute, tossing to coat the pasta completely and warm through.

Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Serve right away.

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Recipe Source

From Washington food writer David Hagedorn, co-author with chef Cathal Armstrong of "My Irish Table: Recipes From the Homeland and Restaurant Eve" (Ten Speed Press, March 2014).

Tested by David Hagedorn.

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