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Lemon-Pesto and Clams Pasta

Dinner – 25 minutes flat! Purchased pesto, canned clams and a spritz of lemon make a one-pot pasta meal in minutes. (yeah, less dish washing!) Fresh lemon juice and zest brighten the brininess of the clams, and add a twist to traditional pesto.  In summer when basil is abundant it’s nice to wiz up homemade pesto in a blender – just basil leaves, Parmesan, salt, garlic and olive oil –  but this time of year, or when you’re in a hurry there are many prepared options available. I buy Trader Joe’s Genova brand refrigerated pesto. Rita’s favorite is Armanino Farms frozen pesto.  Speaking of Rita, I developed this recipe for a project we worked on together at Golden Grain pasta many years ago. She is still saying how much she likes it!

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Lemon-Pesto and Clams Pasta
Prep time 25 minutes. Makes 4 entree servings.
Prepare a green salad while the pasta is boiling and dinner is done!

12        ounces uncooked spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine pasta
3/4      cup prepared pesto (one 7-oz container), divided
2          teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
2          cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped or minced clams, undrained
1          tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
            Shredded Parmesan cheese 

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  2. In a small dish combine 1/4 cup pesto with lemon zest. Set aside.
  3. Drain spaghetti in a colander; do not rinse.  Cover with a lid to keep warm. 
  4. In the same pot used for pasta, heat clams and lemon juice over medium-high heat.  Simmer 2 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in remaining 1/2 cup pesto.
  6. Add pasta to clam sauce.  Stir until heated through. Top each serving with a spoonful of lemon-pesto and pass Parmesan separately.

 Recipe developed by Rosemary Mark for Golden Grain Pasta.   

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  1. Rita
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Yumm. You’ve inspired me to make this for dinner tomorrow or Friday! Fortunately, I always have a container of pesto in my freezer, and the other ingredients are among my kitchen staples.

    • Rosie's Kitchen
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      This recipe was done for Golden Grain in 2002. Time flies!

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