An easy, quick, Simple Red Clam Sauce with a “cooked all day” richness that will be a favorite for any pasta lover! Another perfect weeknight dinner to add to your rotation. Even better the next day for lunch!
This sauce brings back childhood memories in the oddest way possible. It’s weird how you associate certain things with food….even if that food wasn’t part of the original memory. (I’m going somewhere with this….hang in there.) When I was teeny, tiny…I remember walking to the post office in our teeny, tiny town. It was a huge brick building with counters so high I couldn’t even see over them. I loved the post office….probably because of the smell. The whole place smelled like the glue on the back of a postage stamp. And for those of you youngins, there was a time when you had to lick the stamp to get it to stick. That’s the glue smell I’m talking about. ANYWAY….I loved post office day….the walk on the crooked brick sidewalks that I would inevitably trip on and scrape my knee….the cement steps that I would, also, trip on and scrape my other knee….the tile floor, the history of the building, I was fixated on the post office.
When I was in high school, we moved away and it would be at least a decade before I would ever see that post office again. And when I did finally drive by….it was a pizza place. Genius. You know what else….they barely changed a thing, other than making it a restaurant. It still has the old post office feel that I remember. The building isn’t quite as huge as I remembered and the window counter where we bought our stamps not quite as high. I can finally see over them. And the smell….it no longer smells like the post office but of sweet, tomato-y, tangy red sauce. And garlic. It.smells.amazing. (For the locals….I’m talking about Giovanni’s in RoFo. 🙂 )
It’s a great family friendly place and, as I’m writing this, I realize I should write a review….this is not it. This is for the Red Clam Sauce that I had to make because I was craving it so desperately. A Simple Red Clam Sauce that I made just a little bit lighter because I know their’s has to have butter, lots of olive oil and other good…but not so good for you…stuff in it. And I know their sauce has probably taken them more than 30 minutes to make. You can taste the love in each and every bite.
This Simple Red Clam Sauce is a close second to Giovanni’s…..but it’s perfect for a crazy weeknight, which I know many families are going to be facing with the warmer weather slowly (very, very slowly) returning. And a bonus…..it makes a ton so you can freeze half to save for an equally busy night!
Simple Red Clam Sauce
Makes 8 servings
4 ounces diced pancetta
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic)
1 28-ounce can tomato puree (Also Muir Glen Organic)
1 pound chopped fresh clams and juice OR canned clams and juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven, brown the pancetta over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and celery to the drippings and cook over medium-high heat until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree stirring to combine.
Stir in the oregano and brown sugar and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and then stir in the clams. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until the clams are cooked.
Serve immediately over pasta or with crusty bread. Or both. I vote for both.