Caprese Clams are a delicious steamed clams recipe with manila clams, bursting tomatoes, garlic and thick cut croutons in a luscious basil, lemon white wine sauce.
Perfect served as a family style seafood appetizer or as linguine and clams recipe over pasta.
How to steam clams
To steam clams simply add clams in an even layer to steam in an aromatic broth until they open.
You can steam clams on the grill, or on the stovetop, in a pot, pan or steamer rack. No matter what heat source you choose, make sure to use a wide pot that’s large enough to cook all your clams in a layer no more than two clams deep, ideally a single layer.
To store clams before cooking or serving, transfer on ice from market or store than make sure that they are thoroughly clean and free of grit and sand. And keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator in a netted bag, or other container with a perforated bottom to allow any fluids to drip out. Make sure that the clams are alive before cooking. Discard any that do not snap closed when tapped, and after cooking, discard those that do not open.
You typically do not need to soak and purge sand from clams unless you freshly dig them yourself.
How to clean clams
Purge sand from clams to clean them by soaking in cold salt water for at least 30 minutes. This is typically only necessary if using wild caught clams that have not been de-sanded before. Do not soak for longer than 1 hour or you risk the clams dying from lack of oxygen in the water.
Then rinse in cold water and scrub shells to remove any debris before using as desired in a clam recipe like this delicious steamed clams recipe.
- Manila clams – are a delicious clam and considered to be the best clams for steamed clams, if available. Manila clams are small, sweet hard-shell clams accidentally introduced from Japan to Washington state in the 1920s. And now found year round from Western Canada to Northern California. Or substitute other hard-shelled clams like Pacific Littleneck or rock clam, pismo clam, or butter clams on the West coast. Or quahog, littleneck or cherrystone on the East Coast. You can even use mussels or East coast soft-shelled clams which are commonly referred to as ‘steamers’ once cooked.
- Red pepper flakes
- Cherry tomatoes – cherry tomatoes are great in these steamed clams because they break down quickly and are bite sized. Cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes, are also great in other caprese recipes like this Caprese Pasta Salad and also in Tomato Bruschetta with Cheese
- Garlic cloves – finely sliced
- Lemon – zested and juiced
- White wine – or substitute beer, chicken stock, or vegetable stock to make steamer clams without wine
- Fresh basil- cut into fine ribbons or torn into pieces
- Crouton style breadcrumbs – or make homemade garlic croutons by tossing chunks of rustic bread in garlic butter and baking at 300 until crispy.
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
Step by step instructions
- Place a large heavy bottomed cast iron pan or dutch oven over medium high heat on the stove or on a grill.
- Add butter, red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes to the hot pan.
- Cook until butter melts and tomatoes puff slightly, about 1 minute.
- Then add sliced garlic and clams to the buttered tomatoes and stir or shake to prevent garlic from scorching.
- Turn clams to coat in butter and cook over medium heat for about a minute before adding white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Cover and continue cooking until clams open, about 3 – 5 minutes for manilla clams. If substituting another variety they may take longer to steam open.
- Then remove the cover, stir, and remove and discard any clams that have not opened as clams will not open if they are dead and should be thrown out.
- Season broth to taste with salt and pepper and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, croutons, and basil.
- Serve immediately.
How to serve
Serve steamed clams hot with a generous amount of crusty bread to dip in the lemon wine steamed clam broth. Or serve clams with pasta as a linguine with clams recipe. Simply toss cooked linguine, or other pasta, into the clam sauce before serving.
The recommended serving size for steamed clams is about ½ pound per person as an appetizer and about 1 pound per person as a main dish. This recipe will serve 2-4 to increase the serving size simply add more clams.
How to store
To store clams, remove all shells and cool then store refrigerated for up to 2 days before reheating. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
- 2 pounds manila clams
- 1 large lemon zested and juiced
- ½ cup white wine
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup basil leaves torn
- ½ cup croutons
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- heat a large cast iron pan over medium high heat on the stovetop or on grill over medium hot coals.
- Add butter, red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes to the hot pan. Cook until butter is melted, and tomatoes begin to puff slightly, about 1 minute.
- Add sliced garlic and clams to the buttered tomatoes and stir or shake to prevent garlic from scorching. Turn clams to coat in butter and cook over medium heat for about a minute before adding white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Cover and continue cooking until clams open, about 3 – 5 minutes then remove cover, stir, and remove and discard any clams that have not opened. Season broth to taste with salt and pepper.
- Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, croutons, and basil.
- Serve immediately.