This is an authentic recipe for Spaghetti alle Vongole (Italian for spaghetti and clams) shared by my Italian friend Isa. This has always been my favourite Italian pasta dish, but ordering it at a decent Italian restaurant is not cheap. Now, thanks to this recipe, I was thrilled that not only can I cook this at home at a fraction of the cost (with extra servings of clams), but the cooking method is also quite easy with just a few ingredients. Now I can tuck into this dish as often as I like, and the cost savings can be used to buy a good bottle of white wine to pair with my spaghetti. Buon Appetito!
This is an authentic recipe for Spaghetti alle Vongole (Italian for spaghetti and clams) shared by my Italian friend Isa.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
320 g spaghetti
1 kg fresh clams (vongole) still in their shells (that’s the longest and most difficult option, but surely the best one) OR 1 jar preserved clams OR 1 pack frozen clams
4 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 garlic clove
½ glass white wine
1 small bunch of parsley
1 small piece of chili pepper optional
If you are using fresh clams, first you have to put them in salted water for a few hours so they will expel all of their sand. Then wash them, put them in a pot with nothing else, cover them and put them on the stove for a few minutes until they are all open. Let them cool and patiently remove all of them from their shells. Alternatively, you can also leave some or all in the shells for decoration. If you are using preserved or frozen clams, just skip all of the above.
Put a large pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic clove on the stove. When it is hot, add the clams and let them cook a little bit (not much as they are practically already cooked during the opening procedure). Add the wine and let it evaporate. Turn off the stove, remove the garlic clove and add chopped parsley and crushed pepper if you like.
In the mean time, cook spaghetti until “al dente”. Remember to put a little bit less of salt than usual in the water.
Put the drained spaghetti in the pan with the clams. Turn on the stove and shake the pan energetically to mix pasta and clams well. If the pasta is becoming too dry, you can add a little bit of its cooking water.
Turn off the stove and then add the remaining olive oil. This is called “olio a crudo” and gives a special touch to the dish.
Put into 4 pasta dishes and serve while it’s still hot!
Cooking Notes (from Isa)
Some people prefer to add tomatoes (either fresh chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce). I think it is much better without. If you decide to add tomatoes, then remove the wine, as tomatoes and wine don’t mix!
To see if pasta is “al dente”, usually the best way is to taste it, but here’s another method for unexperienced people: if you take a spaghetti string that’s cooking and cut it, you should see a white dot in the middle that’s still hard. This means the pasta is not cooked yet. As soon as the white dot disappears (but the middle part is still a bit hard), then the pasta is “al dente” and you can drain it!