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Steamed Clams in Spicy Tomato Sauce

If you are a seafood lover and you've never tried making clams at home, you are in for a treat! They are easy to prepare and the results are delicious. I like to steam them in a white wine infused tomato sauce. As the clams steam, they open, releasing their salty, briny ocean flavors. The lemon zest and dried thyme play off each other beautifully, brightening and grounding the dish to create the perfect balance of flavors.
Crostini make a perfect accompaniment to the clams. Slice a baguette on a diagonal, lay the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for a couple of minutes on each side until they turn golden brown and crunchy. If you like garlic, you can rub a fresh clove over the crostini for extra flavor.
If you are serving this for a crowd, I often make the tomato base before my guests arrive and allow the sauce to simmer while I have a glass of wine and mingle. The host should have fun too, right? When your guests make a move for the table, drop the clams in the broth and in five minutes, dinner will be on the table.
Course Fish and Seafood
Servings 4 people


  • 5 lbs clams (i.e. cherrystone or littleneck)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn pepper
  • 1 tspn dried thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 tspn chili flakes to taste (qb)
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, for garnish


  • Allow the clams soak in cold water for 20 minutes. The clams will release the sand and debris they may be holding. After twenty minutes, you will see the debris at the bottom of the bowl. Next, lift them from the water, scrub them with a stiff brush. Discard any clams that are chipped or not firmly closed.
  • Swirl olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the sliced garlic and allow to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Do not brown the garlic or it will turn bitter.
  • Add the white wine and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes.
  • Add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Add the salt.
  • Add the pepper.
  • Add the thyme.
  • Add the chili flakes, and then cover and allow to simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes and then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  • Add the clams to the pot, cover tightly with a lid and allow them to steam for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they have opened. Once the clams have opened, they are done. Remove them from the heat.
  • Add the lemon zest and sprinkle with fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley. GIve the clams a gentle toss and you're ready to serve. Enjoy!