Linguine with Mussels and Clams

A wader-wearing fisherman steps out smiling from the refrigerated barnlike structure, where haddock and other local fishes are getting sorted and processed, cleaned, scaled and filleted, to help the customer, who was me. I was charmed and happily waited in the cold sunshine for the burly guy to go inside and bag up my stuff. I made off with a pound each of steamers and mussels for just about four dollars. I planned to make a Valhallan feast with humble ingredients. Today we need pasta basking in butter and oil. We need a fire in the wood burning stove and crisp wine and a good baguette to swab through the remaining garlic-and ocean-infused sauce. If you’re like me, you’re feeling energized by the stark, unadorned landscape and promise of a new year, but in equal measure in need of comfort at the end of the day. A balance of motivation and hibernation. This dish is a balm for the soul on these kinds of days. Easy to prepare, but special, peasant-elegant.

Linguine with Mussels and Clams
Serves 4


  • 1 lb clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lb mussels, scrubbed and debearded*
  • 1 package (9 oz) fresh linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Big squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Salt
  • Asiago cheese


To prepare the clams scrub their shells and rinse repeatedly in cold water. For the mussels, run them under cold water in a colander whilst you prep the other ingredients. In a large pot over medium heat add olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir 4-5 minutes. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine and clams, cover. After five minutes add mussels. Cook for ten minutes, frequently shaking the pot. In another pot, make the linguine according to package directions. When done, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and coat pasta with butter back in the cook pot. When the shellfish have opened (discard any that haven’t) toss with the pasta. If the shellfish cooking liquid looks dirty, as mine did, don’t use it, and instead add a splash of wine along with parsley, lemon juice, and grated cheese.

*  The majority of my mussels were already beard-free.

Our “Classics” series tackles some of our favorite dishes from Maine’s rich culinary tradition. You can think of them as “traditional” dishes, or more accurately, things you might have had for hot lunch in the fourth grade, had you attended St. George Elementary. To read more from this series, click here.
Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. A trick for getting every speck of sand out of fresh clams: heavily salt a large bowl of chilly cold water, and stir in a few handfuls of cornmeal. Let the little guys hang out in there for an hour or two, in the fridge, and they will replace the sand with the cornmeal [or something like that… technical term :)]. No silt at the bottom of your pot, and you’ll be able to use all their delicious juices that are released when cooking!

    Great recipe!… wish I had access to fresh shellfish at the prices you do… so jealous! 🙂 Have always hoped to visit Maine!

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