Spicy Clams in a Garlicky Habanero Red Sauce

This recipe was a healthy take on a linguini and clams where we skip the cream but pack it with all sorts of flavor so you don’t even miss it. Garlic, habaneros, shallots, some traditional herbs and some fresh herbs and scallions round out the dish.

Spicy Clams in a Garlicky Habanero Red Sauce

Prep Time 30 minutes • Total Time 1 hours
Difficulty Level:


Serves 2 starving people or 4 normal people.

As always, the first step in the recipe is prep.

  1. Rinse clams in several changes of water and scrub with a bristle brush.
    Mince shallots, habaneros and garlic and set aside.
  2. Make pasta (if using), add oil and set aside
  3. While the pasta is cooking, add the wine and lemon juice to a separate pan and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the clams to the pot, cover and cook for 4-7 minutes until the clams are opened up. Discard any unopened clams.
  5. Pass the liquid left over from the clam boil through a cheese cloth, and clean and dry the pan. Return the pan to the heat and add olive oil and scallions; sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Add habaneros and garlic and sauté for another minute. Be careful here and make sure your vent is on because those peppers turn into pepper spray in your kitchen.
  7. Add the canned tomatoes to the pan and stir.
  8. Add the dried herbs and lemon zest. Also taste the clam liquid to determine the saltiness before adding some of the liquid to a bit less than your desired saltiness; cook for about 20 minutes. It will get saltier as it reduces. You want the sauce to thicken up a bit but not to be completely dry. Add a splash of wine if it gets too thick.
  9. Add the clams, the parsley and the scallions to the tomatoes and stir to coat everything. Toss any clam shells that have given up their meat.
  10. Serve over a small portion of pasta and dig in. If you like, you can sprinkle more parsley over the top. Pictured with grilled bread with olive oil and sea salt.


  • 2 cups dry white wine such as pino grigio, savignon blanc, or albiriño
  • 6 lbs clams such as littlenecks
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 habaneros, minced
  • 2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • Lemon juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions
  • 8 oz long pasta like spaghetti, angel hair, bucatini or linguini