To give spaghetti with fresh clam sauce more flavor, chef Ashley Christensen purees sweet roasted bell peppers into the spicy, briny broth. We didn’t think spaghetti and clams could get better than the garlicky classic until chef Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina, created a version that forever changed the way we look at this dish. Her method is to steam the clams in wine, then puree the resulting broth with roasted red peppers, creating a briny, rich, deeply flavorful sauce that clings to the pasta—no leaving any delicious sauce behind in the bowl. Adding a hefty load of Swiss chard helps to amp up the flavor, creating a fabulously satisfying one-dish wonder.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 dozen littleneck clams
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 pound Swiss chard or collard greens, stemmed and chopped (8 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
- Step 1
In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the clams. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a baking sheet. Discard any unopened clams. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a blender. Add the roasted peppers and puree until smooth.
- Step 2
Wash out the pot, then heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in it. Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the crushed red pepper and Swiss chard in batches until the chard is just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the roasted pepper broth and season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the Swiss chard mixture along with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and the 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Add the clams and toss to heat through. Transfer the pasta and broth to shallow bowls, garnish with grated cheese and serve.