Garlicky Spaghetti with Clams
Why This Recipe Works
The key to a flavor-packed spaghetti made from pantry ingredients is making the most of the garlic. We mince our garlic to make sure that all of it cooks at the same rate. Toasting the garlic over low heat in ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil ensures that it cooks to a pale golden brown. Any darker and its flavor goes from delicately buttery and sweet to bitter and harsh.
We cook our spaghetti in just 2 quarts of salted water in order to ensure that the pasta cooking liquid is loaded with starch. We reserve a portion of this liquid and add it to the spaghetti along with the oil. The starch helps the oil cling to the pasta and gives the dish a perfect—not greasy—texture. Adding 1/2 teaspoon of raw minced garlic near the end of cooking helps to balance garlic’s dual attributes—the buttery sweetness of toasted garlic and the fire of raw garlic.