If you've ever had Clams Casino, you know how well bacon complements littleneck clams. This simple pasta recipe borrows inspiration from that classic dish, updated with fresh herbs and spinach.
Timing is a key element here, as is often the case with pasta dishes. Start cooking the linguine first, so you have time to make the sauce while it cooks. You can also cook the bacon, garlic and shallot mixture in advance; reheat it briefly, add the wine, and then continue on with the recipe.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and the linguine and cook until the pasta is al dente (tender, but still a bit chewy).
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes, and continue cooking until the bacon is crisp, stirring frequently.
Add the wine to the pan, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover the pan and cook until the clams open, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the clams to a bowl with tongs, discarding any that have not opened. Place a baking sheet or a piece of aluminum foil over the bowl to keep the clams warm.
Return the pan to the stove and add the butter, tarragon, parlsey and spinach to the bacon mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the pasta to the pan (transfer it with tongs directly from the cooking liquid, or if you prefer, drain it first but reserve some of the liquid). Stir and toss to combine the mixture. If the pasta seems dry, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the pan.
Divide the linguine and sauce between 2 shallow bowls. Top with the clams and serve immediately.