This spicy take on linguine with clam sauce uses affordable tinned clams for a quick and inexpensive version of the restaurant fave that comes together quickly. If your store carries them, opt for more flavorful smoked clams packed in oil instead of the brined version; they’re priced about the same, but the smoked clams have a deeper, toastier flavor that works well with the chile flakes and toasted garlic.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and season with 1 tablespoon salt. Add the pasta and cook 3 minutes less than called for on the directions on the box. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
While the pasta cooks, combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and the garlic starts to sizzle, remove from the heat and allow the garlic to toast. Juice the lemon into the skillet then add the butter, clams, vermouth, 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and the cooked pasta. Stir to evenly combine, then turn the heat up to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and fully coats the pasta, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt as needed and add black pepper, the lemon zest and parsley. Use tongs to toss then divide among bowls and serve immediately.
Smoked clams are more compressed and tightly packed in their tins than cans of brined clams (which also weighs the brine) hence the size discrepancy.