National Garlic Day: A Canadian Chef’s Take on Spaghetti With Clams

Clam Spaghetti

Celebrate National Garlic Day with this garlic-infused recipe for spaghetti with Clams from Canadian-based chef David Hawksworth. Photo: Clinton Hussey

Now smell this: April 19 is national garlic day, but we wholeheartedly suggest you add a bit of garlic into your diet everyday. It’s long been used as a medicinal ingredient in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Asian and Indian treatments — as well as a flavourful component to the respective cuisines. And, of course, now it’s a staple ingredient around the world, so all the better. 

“Garlic is part of the allium family along with onions, shallots, chives, leeks and green onions,” says Vikki Petersen, a certified clinical nutritionist, chiropractor and certified functional medicine practitioner. The allium family, she says, is high in beneficial sulfur compounds, which adds the unique aroma and flavour to food. “Garlic should also be a daily addition to your diet because of all the health benefits it provides, including boosting immunity, decreasing the risk of cancer, reducing inflammation, reducing blood sugar and protecting your heart,” she says.

According to Peterson, here are four ways you can reap the health and wellness benefits of garlic:


1. Boosts Your Immune System and Fights Cancer


Garlic can help boost your immune system to help avoid and fight off viruses (like the common cold and COVID-19) and can even reduce the risk of cancer. The chemical compounds (flavonols) and sulfur compounds have known anti-viral and tumour inhibition properties.


2. Garlic Is Rich in Antioxidants


Garlic is very rich in antioxidants and, therefore, lessens the effect of oxidative damage, which is tied to premature aging, DNA damage and diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is one food that promotes both good physical and mental health!


3. Garlic Has Natural Anti-Inflammatory Abilities


This is important because the degenerative diseases that many people are dying from, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and more, are all driven by inflammation. Garlic acts to reduce inflammatory proteins, and as such can help ward off aches and pains in the body, fight depression and sadness, and even help combat brain fog.


4. Garlic Is Low in Calorie and Adds Incredible Flavour


Not only is garlic a low-calorie option, but it also adds delicious flavour to healthy foods you want to eat more of, including vegetables, beans and whole (gluten-free) grains (e.g. hummus, homemade salad dressing, roasted vegetables, sauteed vegetables, and more). Want just about anything to taste better? Throw some garlic on it!

David Hawksworth, the Canadian-based top chef who oversees the kitchens at his Vancouver restaurants, Hawksworth, Nightingale and Bel Café, as part of his company, Hawksworth Group, has just released his new cookbook: Hawksworth: The Cookbook. 

Here, he shares his secret recipe for his take on the Italian classic, pasta alle vongole (clams), which features a healthy dose of garlic.


Recipe: Clam Spaghetti

Serves 6 

For this Nightingale dish, we always use fresh spaghetti and BC Manila clams poached in fragrant clam stock. And we use fresh jalapeno, not chili flakes, because I like the way the heat hits you farther back in the throat. We finish it with lots of lemon juice and butter and keep it loose. Spaghetti, clams, white wine, and clam nectar all go so incredibly well together. No other dish has stayed on the menu as long as this one. 

Note: Making fresh pasta is easy and fun. But if you don’t want to, buy the best-quality dried pasta available; we like Rustichella d’Abruzzo. 

Clam Stock

Olive oil, for sautéing 
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced 
1 small onion, thinly sliced 
12 cloves garlic, chopped 
500mL (2 cups) white wine 
30mL (2 Tbsp) canola oil 
1 small can (295mL/10 oz) clam juice 
3 bay leaves 


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sweat the fennel, onions, and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 12 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Add the clam juice and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids. Set aside the stock. 

Clam Spaghetti

1 recipe Pasta Dough (page 311) or 400g (14 oz) good-quality dry spaghetti 
50mL (3 Tbsp) olive oil 
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1lb (about 30) Manila or littleneck clams 
100g (½ cup) butter 
Pinch dried red chili flakes 
¼ bunch parsley, chiffonade 
1 lemon, juice 
3 scallions, finely sliced 
½ small jalapeno, halved and finely diced 


If using fresh pasta, using the spaghetti attachment on your pasta machine, a spaghetti roller, or a very sharp knife, cut the fresh pasta sheets into long thin strips of spaghetti. 

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil. Cook the fresh pasta until al dente, about 3 minutes. For dry pasta, cook according to package instructions. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the garlic and sweat for 1 minute. Add the clams and some of the clam stock (you may not require all of it, depending how saucy you like your pasta), and cover immediately. Keep covered until the clams are fully open, 3 to 4 minutes; discard any that remain closed. Add the cooked spaghetti, butter and chili flakes and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust with more clam stock if needed. Add the parsley, lemon juice, scallions, and jalapeno and toss well to combine. Season with salt as needed and serve. 

Excerpted from Hawksworth by David Hawksworth, Jacob Richler and Stéphanie Nöel.

Copyright© 2020 David  Hawksworth. Photography by Clinton Hussey. Published by  Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.

Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.