Cooking for One: Smells Like Childhood

DISH: Garlicky Angel Hair with Shellfish
MAIN INGREDIENT: Pasta, Garlic, Parsley, Wine
TYPE: Evocative

One of my family’s go-to dinners while I was growing up was Linguine in Clam Sauce. Before my taste buds evolved to enjoy actually eating the clams, I loved the flavor of the pasta sauce—olive oil, onions, garlic, wilted bits of parsley, evaporated white wine, and the briny residue from the clams.

Whenever I smell that mix of garlic, wine, and parsley cooking, I can’t help being thrown back to childhood family dinners. Especially if I’m hungry, I’ll suddenly feel like I’m again prancing around the kitchen in expectation of the meal. In truth, this probably involved significant whining of “when’s diiiiiinner???” but I figure I’m free to invent a more sunny disposition for my kid self.

It’s true that the excitement and/or whining did always reach heightened levels on Linguine in Clam Sauce nights because this dinner was a bit of a process. It meant a trip to the fish market, then an all-day soak for the clams before they were cooked, separately from the sauce and the pasta, and set aside, the juices from their steaming reserved for the pasta.

In my small kitchen, I took some shortcuts, using frozen scallops and shrimp, and though my incarnation didn’t quite have the depth of flavor the clam broth gave the traditional version, it remained satisfying, filling, and evocative.

From my small kitchen, where pre-dinner prancing and whining are always appropriate, to yours,



Garlicky Angel Hair with Shellfish
Serves 2

I hadn’t actually recalled that the clams were cooked separately until my mom jogged my memory, so next time I might quickly steam the seafood with a bit of water that will then become “broth” I can add to the pasta. Tweaks and specifics aside, the aroma of the sauteeing onions, garlic, and pasta, are, for the moment enough to evoke it all.


4 oz medium shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
4 oz scallops (defrosted if frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
4-6 oz angel hair or linguine

In a medium saucepan, warm the oil. Add the onion and garlic and stir over medium-low heat until soft and slightly golden. Add 1/4 cup of parsley and the salt, stirring until wilted, then add the wine. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, simmering so the wine reduces.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. When it boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the seafood to the saucepan with a bit of the pasta water as needed. Toss until the shrimp and scallops are cooked (this happens very quickly), adding more water if the sauce seems dry.

Drain the pasta and divide between two pasta plates or bowls. Spoon the sauce over and garnish with the remaining parsley.
Posted in: Single Serving
  • Kate

    How can I make this totally vegetarian and also make a broth of some sort for the pasta?

  • Barbra

    This would have been a better use of the Greenmarket scallops I bought last weekend than the unsuccessful risotto I ended up making. Next time!

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