The last of my grandmother’s wedding photos, this is her sister-in-law, Rose [Donroe] Valentino, in 1940. Rose learned how to cook from her Neapolitan mother, Margarite Donroe. She refers to this recipe as white clam sauce, to differentiate it from the tomato-based red version. Rose still lives in the New Haven area and is very spry at age 95.
White Clam Sauce
An old standard Christmas Eve recipe, Rose would use fresh cherrystone clams and serve them in their shells for a more festive presentation. This everyday version uses canned clams from the pantry.
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 small bottles of clam juice (8 fl. oz. each)
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 cans minced clams, drained (6 ½ oz. each)
Salt to taste
1 lb. angel hair pasta
Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, heat oil and sauté garlic until light brown (careful, as garlic burns fast). Add red pepper flakes, clam juice, and parsley. Cook for 15 minutes. Just before serving, add canned clams and let simmer together for 1 minute.
Cook angel hair pasta as directed. Before draining, save ¼ cup of the pasta water. Put pasta in bowl, add part of the clam sauce along with the reserved pasta water. Serve topped with additional clam sauce. Serves 8.
Rose [Donroe] Valentino
North Haven, Connecticut
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