Pasta with Clam Sauce

A vacuum-sealed bag of clams with alternating dark and light bands across each of them
Clams add depth to the taste of any sauce | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

Perhaps, it’s all that exposure to the Disney classic The Little Mermaid, but clams have a special place in many people’s hearts. They also have a special place in a dish of pasta. This is a simple and variable recipe, one that is quite popular in Naples and Rome, Italy.

Reference: Catherine Kudlick, PhD
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1-2


1/2 medium onion
1 medium or large tomato, chopped
1 16-ounce package pasta, cooked (whole grain or gluten free, if appropriate)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 6-ounce can cooked, chopped clams
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)


1. Using a large knife or a food processor, cut the onion finely.
2. Add it to a medium-sized pan and add the olive oil.
3. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. Add the clams and tomato and cook over medium heat until the liquid has mostly (but not completely) evaporated.
5. Serve over cooked pasta–with grated Parmesan if desired.

Good to know

This recipe can be changed to personal taste. You can, for example:

  • Add a bit of white wine to the cooking liquid. This goes particularly well with the clams’ juice.
  • Add other chopped veggies, such as zucchini, at the same time you add the clams and cook until the liquid has all thickened or about 10 mins.

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