John Hinterberger's Clam Spaghetti

6 servings

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 dried red chili pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced or mashed
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt and pepper
½ cup dry white wine
2 cans (4½ ounces) chopped clams, drained with liquid reserved
1/3 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound dried spaghetti
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup black olives, sliced
Pimento, chopped (optional)
Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. Put ½ cup olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet and heat slowly. Add the dried chili pepper, chopped onion and garlic cloves. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes or until the onions are very soft.

2. Add to pan the basil, oregano, salt and pepper, wine and liquid from the clams. Continue to simmer until some of the liquid is reduced down. Keep warm. In the meantime, sauté the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter and add to the mixture.

3. Bring kettle of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook spaghetti until just al dente.

4. As pasta is cooking, add the clams, parsley and 3 tablespoons of cheese to the sauce and simmer at low heat for about 5 minutes. Add olives and pimento, if desired.

5. After draining the pasta, stir into the sauce and toss. Sprinkle generously with grated cheese and serve directly from the skillet.