John Hinterberger's Clam Spaghetti


John Hinterberger's Clam Spaghetti

By Shannon O'Donnell

This clam spaghetti should be's outrageously good and terribly addictive (even delicious cold from the fridge the next day...).  Created by former Seattle Times food critic John Hinterberger, newer versions I've seen printed include the addition of wine, mushrooms, and black olives.  I must have an older copy (I've been making it for nearly 20 years), but I like it just the way it is:  spicy, kicky, garlicky perfection.

A few things:  I double the sauce, but keep the pasta amount (a pound of dry spaghetti) the same...the sauce is too dang good not to have plenty to go around!  Also, trendy restaurants serve the clams IN the shell for their similar pasta dishes--probably for persnickety presentation purposes.  But what a bother.  Do it this way and you're easily able to wind your noodles and clams around your fork without picking through seashells...!

John Hinterberger's Clam Spaghetti


(Again, I double all the ingredients but the noodles...I like mine loaded with sauce!)

*  1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
*  1 dried red chili pepper, finely chopped (about 1/2 T if you're using dried red pepper flakes instead)
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  3 large garlic cloves, minced or mashed
*  1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
*  1 T dry oregano
*  Salt & pepper to taste
*  2 cans (4.5 oz each) chopped clams, drained but liquid reserved
*  1 pound dried spaghetti
*  1 cup chopped fresh parsley
*  Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
*  Pimento (optional)


1)  Pour 1/2 cup olive oil into a large skillet and heat slowly over medium-low heat.  Add the chili pepper, onion and garlic.  Cook slowly for about 30 minutes, until onions are very soft.
2)  Add to the pan the basil, oregano, salt & pepper and the liquid from the clams.  Simmer a few minutes until some of the liquid is reduced down.
3)  Bring kettle of water to a boil.  Add the tablespoon of oil and some salt, then cook spaghetti until al dente.
4)  As pasta is cooking, add clams, parsley and 3 tablespoons of cheese to the sauce.  Add pimento if desired.
5)  Drain pasta and toss with sauce.  Sprinkle generously with more cheese and serve directly from the skillet.

Serve with good, warm bread and a salad.  Serves 6 to 8.

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About Shannon


When she's not forecasting, Shannon O'Donnell enjoys putting together tasty, season-appropriate meals and goodies for her friends and family.

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