Budget-Friendly Clam (& Tinned Fish) Spaghetti

//Budget-Friendly Clam (& Tinned Fish) Spaghetti


This is one of my go-to weeknight (and Meatless Monday) dinners. The original recipe (minus the additional tinned fish, cream and tomatoes) comes from my mom who is a retired recipe developer. We would eat this at least once a month and always on my brother Andrew’s birthday — it’s his favorite. The generous garlic, butter and parmesan makes this budget-friendly, Meatless Monday-friendly dish extra craveable while the blistered tomatoes, spinach and fresh herbs add a little acid and green to balance everything out. In this pictured version I actually used Tiny Fish’s chorizo mussels and drizzled a little of the reserved spiced oil over the top before garnishing with herbs. I love the Tiny Fish product; it was developed by Top Chef contestant Sara Hauman, who combines sustainably sourced seafood from the Pacific Northwest with chef-driven flavor combinations. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 2


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (or so)
  • Splash vermouth or white wine
  • 4 (6 ounce) cans clams
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 - 6 ounces thin spaghetti
  • 1 (3.7 ounce) can smoked oysters or mussels
  • 2 cups (or a handful) chopped or sliced baby spinach (if you have it on hand)
  • Touch heavy cream (optional)
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp. butter, cubed, chilled
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Torn fresh basil and/or chopped parsley


  • Cook garlic in oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat until fragrant and browned, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Add vermouth or wine if desired and cook until reduced, scraping up browned bits, about 30 seconds.
  • Drain liquid from clams into skillet leaving clams in cans.
  • Add red pepper; bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Halfway through the simmer, add the tomatoes (they will blister into the sauce).
  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  • Add clams, smoked oysters, mussels spinach and cream, if using, to broth in skillet; heat through.
  • Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, into mixture over low heat.
  • The butter will thicken the sauce if is not over heated.
  • Stir in half the cheese.
  • Drain spaghetti, transfer to serving plates.
  • Spoon sauce over and top with remaining cheese and basil or parsley. 
By | 2023-08-28T22:59:42-05:00 August 28th, 2023|Recipes|Comments Off on Budget-Friendly Clam (& Tinned Fish) Spaghetti

About the Author:

Amelia Levin is a Chicago-based food writer and magazine editor, cookbook author and certified chef who writes about food, foodservice and the restaurant industry. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers as well as online.