One of our standards around here is a simple, quick linguine with white clam sauce, based on Marcella's standard only slightly evolved over the years.

The other night, though, faced with a huge vat of thick homemade tomato sauce (and more still to come), the notion of a RED clam sauce seemed appealing.

I know I've got an authentic recipe around here somewhere, but I couldn't find it, so I just winged it (wung it?) and created a light red-sauce dish based on similar-only-different principles to the white. This is a very quick and easy dish; after brief preparations, you can actually make the sauce during the 10 minutes it takes the linguine to boil.

So ...

Put a pot of salted water on heat for the pasta, and while it's coming up to the boil, whack two or three garlic cloves into thin slices; mince enough white onion to make 1/4 cup; chop enough fresh basil and flatleaf parsley to make at least 1/4 cup; open a 6 1/2 ounce can of chopped or minced clams, drain, and reserve the liquid; put the clams in a bowl and toss them with a squirt or two of lemon juice; and have ready 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh (or, if you must, canned) tomato sauce.

Start the linguine boiling, and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick sautee pan and cook the garlic with a shake of dried red-pepper flakes until the garlic starts to brown. Then add the onions, cook until translucent, and add the reserved clam liquid, boiling over high heat until it's almost completely reduced. Add the tomato sauce, bring it to the boil, then lower heat to very low and let simmer while the pasta finishes cooking. Just a minute before serving, stir in the clams, basil and parsley, stir until they're warmed through. Drain the cooked pasta, dump it into the sauce, and stir with two wooden spoons until pasta and sauce are well mixed.

Serve with crusty bread (the sauce is great for dipping) and a big salad, and who could ask for more?

The sauce and herbs make this seafood dish one that can stand up very well to red wine, particularly a soft and fruity red like the currently popular varietal Merlot.