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Cajun Clam Pasta

Lauren Collins

A major twist on the classic linguine with clam sauce (vongole).  This dish is creamy, full of flavor, a little spicy and so, so good.

A little garnish of toasted and seasoned breadcrumbs never hurt anyone either!

This recipe is inspired by a dish I had this past winter that I can't stop thinking about.  I love linguine with clam sauce, and whenever I go out to an Italian restaurant, I usually order it (or the ciopinno) (or the seafood fra diablo).  

If you're a fan of littlenecks, love cajun flavors and pasta is your jam, then this should be your next dinner idea.  It is easy to put together and although I use the words "rich" and "creamy", it is secretly light, with no cream whatsoever, so you can indulge a little this summer!


The Ingredients

The ingredients are simple, and you can omit things like the jalapeño if you'd like, or the tomatoes, or add in something like minced shallots, but I would really recommend keeping the pancetta and corn in there, because it adds a savory and sweet take to the dish that I hope you'll love.

As for the sauce, it uses a little butter and flour to make a roux, then chicken broth, whipped cream cheese and lots and lots of cajun seasoning. If you read and tried my Haddock Florentine recipe from May, then you'll notice a similarity to the sauce.  When I make alfredos or a creamy cajun sauce like this, my base is usually this.  I try to avoid cooking with heavy cream, and so I have not tried this recipe with anything but the ingredients you see here.  I have had some questions in the past about switching up ingredients in the sauce, and I certainly encourage all of you to try out your own way, but I personally can't speak about it.

That being said, let's get to the ingredients!

Pancetta is basically Italian bacon, and adds a really nice savory touch to this dish.  I like to cook it for 8-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it get's nice and crispy.  Crispy pancetta is also delicious as a garnish over split pea soup, tossed with pasta for a carbonara, added to pizzas or in name it!  

The kind of pasta I used for this recipe was linguine, but you could use just about any kind of spaghetti noodle, I would just stay away from something like angel hair, since those noodles will be too delicate for the heavier cream sauce.

Fresh ears of corn are always best, and you can either use a knife to cut the kernels off or use one of those nifty corn tools.  If you're trying to save time, canned or frozen corn will work too, just make sure to drain and rinse the canned corn or thaw out the frozen corn before adding it to the recipe.

I used plum tomatoes, quartered and then diced.  Halved cherry tomatoes could also work for this, or just about any tomato for that matter.  Heirloom would be even better!

The jalapeño must be seeded (unless you want the spiciest dish known to man), however the jalapeño isn't necessary, I just like a little spice, but the cajun seasoning the sauce will give you a little of that anyways, so feel free to leave it out if you prefer.

For the clams, I like to use a mix of canned chopped clams and fresh littlenecks.  The chopped clams I love the most are from Bar Harbor Company and you can get a great deal on them at the Christmas Tree shop, or you can usually find them in most grocery stores too.

The breadcrumbs took me three tries to actually remember that I put something under the broiler, and by the third time I managed to get them perfectly toasted and not burnt to a crisp.  So the lesson here folks is that if you have something in the broiler, do not attempt any other tasks while doing so, otherwise you'll end up like me with a kitchen smelling like burnt toast.

The Main Dish

One of the best parts of this dish is that it is all made in the same pan (except for boiling the linguine of course).  

To save dishes, use tin foil on your baking sheet to broil the breadcrumbs, so all you have to do is throw the foil away afterwards and the pan is clean!

The combination of flavors here is so, so yummy, and I really hope you enjoy this recipe.  Please let me know if you try this recipe, I would love to hear from you!

This recipe is intended to serve two people, but you can of course double it or triple it if necessary.  You can click here to print the recipe, or check it out below!

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Looks delicious, I’ll have to try it as I love linguini with clam sauce.
    Lauren if you like crispy pancetta, try the Rosemary Chicken at Sweet Basil in Needham next time you’re up North!

    1. Oh man I sure do miss Sweet Basil!! So many incredible restaurants up that way – I’ll keep that in mind next time we’re up!

  2. My word ! I’m drooling over that one !

    1. Oh yes, it’s very delicious!!


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