If you've ever dined at one of Scott Conant's much-lauded Scarpetta restaurants (in N.Y.C., Beverly Hills, Miami, Las Vegas, or Toronto) you believe—the man knows his way around a pot of pasta. In The Scarpetta Cookbook ($35; amazon.com), Conant reveals some of his top recipes, including this crowd-pleasing dish, replete with fresh herbs and salty clams. "When it comes to selecting the best clams, make sure they smell sweet, never fishy," he says. And remember to allow the arugula to wilt on the way to the table so the leaves retain vibrance and crunch. Read on for the recipe.
Spaghetti with Clams, Arugula, and Basil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed to finish
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
24 littleneck clams
1 lb dried spaghetti
8 oz baby arugula
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (thin ribbons)
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley salt to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat the ¼ cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Add clams and 1 cup water. Cover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until clams have opened, about 7–9 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta until not quite tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain the pasta.
5. Add pasta to the clams; toss gently.
6. Finish cooking pasta in the sauté pan, adding a little pasta water if needed. When pasta is al dente (about 4 minutes), add arugula, basil, and parsley; cook, tossing gently, until arugula has wilted. Taste; add salt if needed.
7. Drizzle with a little olive oil to finish, and serve.