Easy, simple and exquisitely delicious, Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) is the perfect dish for a warm summer evening. It requires only a few ingredients and comes together in around 30 minutes.
What You Need for Spaghetti alle Vongole
- Fresh Clams: You can use littlenecks, manilla, or cockles here. Sometimes you’ll find clams labeled as “pasta clams”. Regardless of which variety you choose, be sure to 1) source the freshest clams you can find and 2) clean and purge the clams in salted water before cooking.
Clams usually still have some surface dirt and quite a bit of sand inside when you bring them home from the market. Scrub each clam with a clean bristled brush and purge the sand by soaking them in a bowl of cold, salted water for 20-3o minutes.
- Dry Spaghetti: There’s a time and place for fresh pasta and this is not it. Grab a package of good-quality dried spaghetti here (I like De Cecco or Garofalo brands). You want a little bit of that al dente bite that you can’t really get from fresh pasta
Feel free to substitute your favourite gluten-free or grain-free pasta. Jovial makes incredible options to choose from. You can also substitute linguine for a slightly broader noodle.
- Garlic, Chiles and Parsley: You really don’t need much more than garlic, chiles and parsley when it comes to flavouring your spaghetti alle vongole. The most important thing is not to burn them, which will leave you with a very bitter flavour that can overpower the dish.
- White Wine You Like: I very rarely cook with wine because I’d much rather enjoy it in a glass. When I do use it in a recipe, I try to select a wine that I actually like drinking. That way I know the dish will taste good and I don’t end up with 3/4 of a bottle that potentially won’t be enjoyed.
You may offend some Italians along the way, but if you don’t want to use wine, try substituting a good quality fish or seafood stock. You can also add a splash of clam juice to spike the flavour even more. After all, the purpose of the liquid in spaghetti alle vongole is to flavour the dish and steam the clams so that they open.
Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams)
- 2 pounds clams
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for serving
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 red finger chile pepper thinly sliced, substitute ½ teaspoon dry red chile flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Rinse and scrub the clams very well to remove any surface dirt. Add them to a large bowl, cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir to agitate, add 1 cup of ice and let stand 20 minutes for the clams to filter any sand in their shells. Drain the water, rinse the clams once more, and set aside. Discard any clams that do not close when gently squeezed or have broken shells.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with 1 tablespoon kosher salt, add the pasta and cook until slightly firm, around 10 minutes.
- In a separate sauté pan, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic and chile, if using. Place over medium heat and gently cook, stirring, until golden, around 2 minutes. Add the clams, half of the parsley and toss to coat. Add the white wine and cover with a lid. Cook until the clams have opened, around 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked clams to a bowl and set aside. If any clams are still closed, continue cooking, covered with a lid, until they have opened. Discard any that remain closed.
- Add ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauce along with the drained spaghetti, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the remaining parsley. Toss to coat and cook, stirring, until the pasta is cooked to your preferred doneness, around 2 minutes for al dente. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt as desired. Transfer to serving bowls, top with the reserved clams, finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.