Spaghetti Vongole is a simple, but delicious, Neapolitan pasta dish which has now spread throughout Italy. As always with Italian food, there are varying recipes, some use chilli, some use diced tomato and some even use water instead of wine. However, a classic Neapolitan Vongole uses just five ingredients; spaghetti, clams, garlic, parsley and white wine. Linguine can be used instead of spaghetti, some people prefer a wider pasta, but I prefer to use the classic spaghetti as it is excellently coated by the delicious wine and clam sauce.
A little note about cooking pasta in a dish like spaghetti Vongole, check the cooking time on your spaghetti, if it says cook for ten minutes, I personally cook it for seven minutes and then add it to the sauce and cook it there for the remaining three minutes, this will allow the pasta to absorb all the flavours much better than just adding cooked pasta, tossing together and serving.
If you can’t find clams, don’t worry use mussels or even prawns both will work fantastically.
Recipe (serves 4)
1 kg small clams , from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, scrubbed clean
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
250ml white wine
400 g dried spaghetti
(1). Put a pan of water on to boil. While that’s happening, sort through your cleaned clams and if there are any that aren’t tightly closed, give them a sharp tap. If they don’t close, throw them away.
(2). Put a large pan with a lid on a high heat and let it heat up. Finely slice the parsley stalks, then put them to one side and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and chop the garlic and get your wine ready.
(3). Add the pasta to the boiling water with a good pinch of salt. Look at the packet instructions if it says 10 minutes, let it cook for 7 minutes.
(4). After about three minutes before your pasta is ready, get ready to start cooking your sauce. Tip the clams into the pan on the heat and pour in the wine. It will splutter and steam, so give everything a good shake and put the lid on the pan. After about 3 or 4 minutes the clams will start to open, so keep shuffling the pan around until all of them have opened.
(5). Now add the sliced garlic and chopped parsley, cook for a moment just to soften the parsley stalks.
(6). Now add to the pasta and then stir or toss for a further minute or two to let the beautiful juices from the clams to be absorbed by the pasta.
(7). Serve right away.