“Can I put cheese on this?” is the most common question Alex asks when eating linguine with clams. You would think the answer would always be yes, but he married an Italian woman and all of a sudden his confidence has dwindled over which pasta dishes receive a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and on which it would be blasphemous to do so.
You see, there’s a rule among Italians that you don’t put cheese on fish. It’s just not done. I’m not sure that there’s any logic behind it, that’s just the way things are. When I was growing up there was never any cheese placed on the table when we ate this dish. It wasn’t there because it wasn’t to be used. When at my parents’ house Alex’s question changes to, “is your mom going to be offended if I put cheese on this?” It’s a safe question to ask in our house.
Mario Batalli recently told a story on his talk show, The Chew, about how a customer at his restaurant asked for cheese to put on a seafood dish. When the customer was told that the chef preferred that this dish be eaten without cheese, the customer replied, “then you can take it in to the kitchen and have the chef eat it, because that’s not how I want it.” I have to say I agree. I don’t know the logic behind the ban of cheese on seafood and, quite honestly, I want to eat Parmesan as often as possible. It tastes great on everything. So I say eat cheese on seafood, especially if you’re making this dish!
linguine with clams
16 ounces linguine
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup white wine
2 6.5- ounce cans clams, drained, rinsed and chopped, juice reserved
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste
Add a generous sprinkle of salt to a pot of water, bring to a boil, and cook the linguini until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, add the butter and olive oil to a saute pan and heat on med-low until the butter has melted. Add the garlic, basil and thyme and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 5 minutes, until reduced by half. Add the chopped clams, their juice, and the parsley and cook just long enough to heat the clams. Toss the sauce with the pasta and add salt to taste.