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Spaghetti alle Vongole | Italian Style Spaghetti with Clams

Know what I love about traditional Italian dishes such as this one? How simply, just a few ingredients come together to make a dish so intensely flavorful and visually stunning.

This pasta is one of the most famous and popular dishes of the Neapolitan culinary tradition and is served in every corner of the globe though perhaps best savored in Naples, overlooking the sea in a small village, watching the sunset?

For now, I must be content serving this at home, in celebration of our youngest returning to school after a year of online schooling owing to COVID. You may think that clams are a funny choice as a kids meal and you may be right except for the fact that my boys quite enjoy the drama of forking each clam out of it's shell.

No doubt, the excellent bottle of Villa Maria, Cabernet Sauvignon from New Zealand has done much to lighten my spirits. I simply cannot get enough of it's citrusy notes and though I open a bottle (for the recipe of course) it's not long before I've chugged down a glass even before I've even headed for the stove.

A lovely broth made all the more briny by the uber-fresh clams, some excellent olive oil, loaded with chopped garlic, a good chug of wine and fresh parsley not to mention the spaghetti cooked al dente, makes up this excellent meal.

In Naples, it's quite the holiday tradition especially on Christmas eve and New Year's day to serve this dish. But don't wait for the holidays to enjoy a meal this good!

Mangia! Mangia!



Recipe for

Spaghetti alle Vongole | Italian Style Spaghetti with Clams

Shopping list:

2-1/2 lbs. little neck clams, scrubbed clean

plenty of water for soaking clams

2 tbsp. corn meal or all-purpose flour for soaking clams

1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

yellow onion, to yield 1/2 cup finely chopped/diced

8 garlic cloves, peeled 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, packed

1/2 cup white wine (like a sauvignon blanc)

2 tbsp. unsalted chilled butter

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black ground pepper

1 lb. dry spaghetti

2 tbsp. salt for pasta water water for boiling pasta


Clams – Remove any excess sand by immersing the clams in a large pot of cool tap water. Add corn meal or all-purpose flour which is a trick used to remove the sand. Soak for about an hour. After, drain and rinse away all the corn meal and sand and set the clams aside, ready to use. Onions or shallots: Peel, discard skin and ends. Finely chop and set aside. Parsley: Finely chop and set aside. Soak in water to prevent discoloring if not using immediately. Butter: Cut into little chunks. Keep chilled in refrigerator until ready to use. Garlic: Finely chop and set aside. Pasta: In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of water with 2 tbsp. salt. Once it is a rolling boil, add the spaghetti. Cook for about 11 minutes until al dente. Stir a few times in the beginning to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain pasta in a colander. Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add the finely chopped onions and garlic. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add all but 2 tbsp. chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, ground black pepper and wine. Stir to combine.

Add the clams. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until most clams have opened. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly. Place pasta into the clam sauté pan and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Garnish with remaining chopped parsley & serve immediately.




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