Spaghetti with Clams and Mussels

Pasta with Clams and Mussels | Lemons & Anchovies blog


The pendulum has been swinging between spring and summer in our neck of the woods.  With no air-conditioning in our half-century old house and temperatures rising last week, I had to pull our very old electric fan out of storage.  This is a fan from my husband’s childhood, a contemporary of our home.  Rather than vertical blades, horizontal blades are encased in a cylindrical metal canister.  My husband remembers sitting on it as a young boy and being warned by his father not to stick his fingers in the grate.  It’s old, a little heavy though not unattractive and we can’t seem to part with it.  It does its job recirculating the air in our bedroom and I actually like its steady humming for it helps lull me to sleep.  It was a godsend one night last week when it felt like the middle of July.

Then as if the sun meant only to make a cameo appearance, it retreated behind the clouds just as quickly as it showed up.  Flip flops, shorts and the fan were set aside again.


Pasta with Clams and Mussels | Lemons & Anchovies Blog


The drop in temperature had me craving a big meal but without the richness of typical winter food.  I decided on a house favorite and made it new by tweaking the recipe just a little.  This is just a slight variation on my go-to Spaghetti con Vongole ;  I used mussels in the recipe because my market didn’t have enough clams.  This wasn’t a problem at all–where the biggest change took place was in my omission of butter and extra clam juice.  As much as I love my old recipe I’m finding they’re not really necessary to make a good pasta with clams.  With lots of good, fruity olive oil, garlic and fresh shellfish you really don’t need much else.  Since the olive oil would make up most of the “sauce” here, I used my favorite from the Napa Valley Olive Oil Mfg Company.  Try to use an oil here that you like so much you wouldn’t mind drinking it if you could.  I might even consider omitting the wine next time to really let the olive oil and clam flavor shine.  This recipe should serve four but my husband and I made it a generous dinner for two.


Pasta with Clams and Mussels | Lemons & Anchovies blog


4.8 from 4 reviews
Spaghetti with Clams and Mussels
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You can have better-than-restaurant quality pasta with just a few key ingredients. This will be ready in under 30 minutes.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds (combined) fresh clams and mussels (soak them in salted water for at least 30 minutes, changing the water once or twice to remove the grit and dirt)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • ½ - ⅓ cup fruity olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1 pound spaghetti (or linguine)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (less than the time indicated in the package).
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook for 1 - 1½ minutes being careful not to let the garlic get brown. Add the wine and clams, cover the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the clam and mussel shells open up. Discard those that don't open. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then add the cooked pasta. Toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. Arrange on individual plates, garnish with chopped parsley and add more olive oil if you wish. Serve with lemon wedges.



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  1. Hands down this is one of my favorite pastas to eat.

  2. This looks so flavorful (though 6 garlic cloves helps with that!) – love the white wine and olive oil sauce!

  3. Beautiful! I’m not a big clam/mussel fan but you’re making me change my mind!

  4. This is one of my favourite pasta dishes ever – gorgeous!

  5. Mussels always take me back to when I was little and my dad would prepare moules-frites (mussels and fries!). I should really start cooking with them myself someday – maybe this beautiful dish will be the maiden voyage. 🙂

    p.s. My drafty, hot/cold, ancient farm house doesn’t have central air either. Like you, I rather enjoy the sound of blowing fans.

  6. A great dish and superbly presented.
    I have just returned from southern Portugal where the markets sell the most amazing varieties of clams see
    Have a wonderful weekend,

  7. Our weather is going from spring to autumn an winter, lol! I can’t wait for warmer summer days when we have to pull our fan out of storage. Your pasta has my name all over it! I love, love, clams and mussels. Thanks for sharing Jean!:)

  8. Your photos are wonderful. I love spaghetti con vongole and will definitely add mussels next time I prepare it.

  9. No AC? That stinks. Here in Germany nobody has AC and I absolutely can’t stand it. But enough complaining! That first picture is AWESOME. Stunning and it looks delicious. And I don’t even like clams or mussels!

  10. I love clams and mussels! This dish sounds so good!

  11. OMG Spaghetti con Vongole is one of my favorite dish, and so happy to see another version. I need to get clams this week and make this. Great idea to use fruity olive oil for this pasta. Never thought of it. I have a few fruity ones I got from last Carmel trip. Can’t wait to go shopping for clams and make this!

  12. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    There’s no way to live here w/out A/C. Although I have found some older Floridians that are very against it and don’t mind the humidity. One of my favorite pasta dishes…this looks so pretty and so delicious!

  13. Jean – I remember you telling me about having no air conditioning so hopefully everything was okay and you did not swelter too long. Smile. This pasta dish looks refreshing. Although I am not a fan of mussels, I think that my hubby would eat every bite. Stunning photos!!!!

  14. Jane OAT says:

    Simple & delicious!

  15. I love pasta with clams! Whenever clams are in season, I am always tossing them herbs, fruity olive oil, and white wine – just like you did here! Mussels are a great addition as well. I am drooling here…

  16. Clams and mussels sound great together in this pasta dish! We are finally getting some cooler spring temps here. It went from snow to crazy hot over night, glad to see it leveling out a little!

  17. Beautiful bowl of pasta Jean!! I’m drooling over the clams and the mussels;-) I love using the Napa Valley Olive Oil -most of all I think it’s fun to buy it when I’m up in the valley;-) Today it’s sunny but windy-a little natural air conditioning-which we all love 😉

  18. Looks great. Will have to try it sometime


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