From the Grill: Pasta with Clams

By on September 17, 2012

While there’s still some summer weather left for a short while, and grape tomatoes are still ripening on the vine, here’s a chance to put the grill to a little more use. Everything is cooked outdoors — even the water for the pasta is boiled on a separate burner beside the main grill. I place aluminum foil pans directly on the grill. At left, I’ve got clams cooking. In the one on the right, I’m sautéeing the shallots and tomatoes.

Keep an eye on the clams and cook them only until the just begin to open up. Remove them as they do, and leave the others to cook a few minutes longer.


fall scents for your home

Reserve and strain all the clam liquid in the pan, and remove the clams from the shells (but hold a dozen or so in the shell to garnish on top. Set the clams aside – you’ll put them back in the sauce later.

After the shallots and tomatoes are cooked, add the strained clam juice, wine, seasonings and the clams. Meanwhile, I cooked the pasta on a burner that’s off to the side, (under the brown potholder), then moved the pot to the main grill and added the pasta to the pan with the clams and other goodies. Of course, you could boil the pasta water on an indoor range, but this dish was prepared on a very hot day when I wanted to keep all the heat out of my air-conditioned house.


Toss everything together and serve.

How would you like a colorful, delicious drink before dinner?

Here are a couple for you — one from me and one from Adri of The Front Burner. We’ve both entered the Metropolitan Opera’s “Elixir of Love” contest and could win two tickets to the Met’s new production of “L’Elisir D’Amore.” Adri lives in California and I live in New Jersey, but we’ve made a pact that if one of us wins, we’re going to the opera together. Don’t you want to support the arts? (and me and Adri?) We’d love it if you voted for us. Voting starts today and continues until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 23 (Eastern time).

My entry is called “Adina’s Downfall” and you can vote for me by going here.

Adri’s drink is called “La Figlia Del Reggimento” and you can vote for her by going here.

Pasta with clams and grape tomatoes

printable recipe here

This recipe was done entirely on the grill, but you can use an indoor range instead.

  • 2 8-ounce packages of fresh tagliolini or fettucini (or 1 lb. dried pasta)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium size shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (enough to fill about 2 cups)
  • about 4 – 6 dozen cherrystone or littleneck clams
  • clam liquid (from cooking the clams – should be about 1/2 cup)
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil to finish
  • red pepper flakes, if desired

Sauté the shallots in the olive oil over low heat. After they are slightly softened, add the tomatoes and cook until they almost burst open. Add the garlic and cook until softened.

Place the clams in a separate container in another part of the grill over high heat. Close the lid to the grill and let the clams cook, just until they open. It may take as little as two or three minutes for them to open up, depending on how hot your grill gets. When the clams start to open, remove each clam from its shell and place in a bowl, reserving about a dozen still intact to garnish on top. There should be a fair amount of liquid in the pan after they all open. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the clam liquid through a coffee filter.

Meanwhile, get the water boiling for the pasta. If you’re using fresh pasta, it will take only a few minutes, just enough time to finish up the sauce.

In the pan with the shallots, tomatoes and garlic, add the strained clam juice and white wine. Cook for a few minutes, then add the clams and heat through a minute or two in the sauce. Drain the pasta (reserving a little of the pasta water to use in the sauce if necessary). Place the pasta in the pan with the sauce and add the lemon rind, freshly ground pepper and the parsley. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve in a large bowl with the clams in the shell as garnish on top.


Originally posted on Ciao Chow Linda.

About Ciao Chow Linda

Linda Prospero, is a Princeton, N.J. writer who has lived in Italy and continues to travel there to visit family and explore all its regions. She spent her career as a journalist, and her articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to the Times of India. But her real passion is Italy -- its art, literature and food -- and sharing that love with others. She is author of the popular blog, Ciao Chow Linda. In my last life, I was a journalist in NYC, but left the rat race to live in Italy for a year with my husband. Back in the states now, I have created this blog to combine my interests of writing and photography with my love of food and travel.

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From the Grill: Pasta with Clams