Pasta Shells with Sausage and Clams: Surf and Turf Pasta

Pasta shells with sausage and clams
Pasta shells with sausage and clams | Source

It was another one of those nights where we did not take anything out of the freezer to thaw and had nothing already thawed in the refrigerator. There was no frozen pizza left, and we did not want to order out. The kids needed to eat in about an hour: I was hungry too. Every time we are in this predicament, we turn to pasta: a true pantry friendly meal.

We bypassed one of our “go to” options of pasta shells and clams because we had no fresh clams only one can. Our next “go to” option is some quick sauce with sausage. We had sausage, but remember, all the meat in the house was frozen. So, my husband in heroic fashion opted for a combination: sausage and clams. He would parboil the sausage to get it to thaw and be ready for browning in no time. This recipe was winged, so this is the best I could get from my husband as to how to recreate this dish. In parentheses are the types of ingredient I would recommend.


  • 1 pack sweet Italian sausage links
  • 2 TBS olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia)
  • 1 tsp salt (Kosher)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 box of medium pasta shells
  • About 3-4 TBS table salt for pasta water.
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 oz can of chopped or minced clams
  • 1-2 TBS parsley (fresh)

Al Dente

Al dente means "to the tooth." So it has just a bit of bite left to it, but it is not raw.


1. Parboil sausage links.

2. Cool and cut into ½ slices.

3. Heat a pot and brown sausage slices.

4. Remove sausage and safely drain oil.

5. Add olive oil to pot.

6. Large dice the onion and add to pot along with the Kosher salt.

7. Start the water boiling for the pasta. Once it boils, add in the table salt and then the pasta.

8. Cook pasta until al dente.

9. Soften the onions over medium-low heat. Make sure they do not brown (the salt will help).

10. Add chopped cloves of garlic.

11. Add white wine to deglaze pot.

12. Add sausage back to pot, along with chicken stock, tomato paste, bay leaf, and only the liquid from the can of clams.

13. Cover and let simmer until onions are completely translucent.

14. Add in clams from can.

15. Drain pasta and place in pot with sauce.

16. Add in parsley and stir and cook one minute to coat pasta.

What is your favorite type of pasta?

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Helpful Information

  • The pot you use needs to have a lid and be big enough to fit the sauce and pasta.
  • Follow direction on the box of your pasta for cooking al dente.
  • It will take around three to four minutes for your onions to soften.
  • They have become scarce for some reason, but we really like Cento’s chopped clams.
  • When you deglaze pot, do not do it over the open flame. Everything can catch fire.
  • Make sure you do not let the sauce reduce while letting the onions become translucent. 
  • Want to sneak in some vegetables? Add peas for color, flavor, texture, and health.

Botanical gardens in Colorado
Botanical gardens in Colorado | Source

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry Crosby is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and Reiki Master. She spent over a decade as a professor of English, Literature, and Education and high school English teacher. She is a doctoral candidate in Education: Curriculum and Teaching. She runs her own home-based business, Naturally Fit & Well, LLC, which includes her all-natural, handmade, and customizable product line, Natural Herbal Blends. Stephanie loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.

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