Spaghetti alle Vongole – I’m in trouble again.

Vongole (10 of 11)Why am I in trouble? Is it for undercooking the pasta? Is it for overcooking the clams? Or, is it for adding too much or too little wine? No, none  of the above. I’m in trouble because the Wife and the Mother both loved this dish. 

They loved it so much, they gave out to me for not serving it before and for not having made it a regular feature on the dinner table. It looks like I’m destined to be a failure, even when I am having successes. If you are willing to risk your reputation and have people think that you really never cared for them, do cook this incredibly simple and delicious Italian classic.  Like with so many great, simple dishes, the ingredients list is pretty short.

Everything you will need bar the oil and butter.

Everything you will need bar the oil and butter.

You will need the following

  • 1 kilo of fresh clams
  • 300 grammes of spaghetti
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • 1 red chili
  • 3 cloves or one single bulb garlic
  • 1 glass of nice white Italian wine
  • A little oil for frying
  • A little butter to get an emulsion going in the sauce
  • A good sense of timing

A couple of hours before dining, place the clams in a big bowl of cold water, with iodine free salt added (I used 2 tablespoons to a half-gallon of water).

Note my very accurate measuring method. Don't knock it, it works for me.

Note my very accurate measuring method. Don’t knock it, it works for me.

This fools the clams into thinking they are back in the ocean and they open and close their shells.

The clams get tossed in. I feel guilty about fooling them about their freedom.

The clams get tossed in. I feel guilty about fooling them about their freedom.

This gets rid of a lot of the sand and grit that one accumulates in one’s shell when one is a clam. Wash and scrub the clams.

The totally gratuitous clam shot. A first for me.

The totally gratuitous clam shot. A first for me.

Discard any that are open or that don’t close when you touch them.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add some salt. Cook the spaghetti. You need to move quickly now. Chop the garlic, chili and parsley up nice and fine.

Garlic chopped. I give the same treatment to the parsley and the chili.

Garlic chopped. I give the same treatment to the parsley and the chili.

When the spaghetti is ‘al denté’, put a decent sized saucepan on the stove and add the oil. Throw in the chili and the garlic. Fry until the garlic aroma arises.

Ken Rivard will be disappointed with my shot of the chili going in. I know Ken. Up the ISO...

Ken Rivard will be disappointed with my shot of the chili going in. I know Ken. Up the ISO…

Add the clams and stir them around. When they start to spit and threaten to open, add half a glass of the wine. Drink the other half. Drain the spaghetti and add it and the parsley to the now opened clams. Add a couple of knobs of butter and stir to thicken the sauce a little. Do discard any unopened clams at this stage. Stir to combine as best you can.

Starting to look pretty tasty indeed.

Starting to look pretty tasty indeed.

Call your diners and serve them this fantastic Italian feast. There is enough for four. I served three of us and got into trouble for not having prepared it before. I suppose that is the highest praise one can get, in a strange, backhanded way. Still, I took some small comfort in mopping up the sauce with some tasty white bread.

Delicious, nutritious and tasty. I will be preparing Vongole again. If only to avoid getting in more trouble.

Delicious, nutritious and tasty. I will be preparing Vongole again. If only to avoid getting in more trouble.

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Latest comments
  • It looks delicious 🙂

    • Thanks MD. Not a lot to preparing it, apart from the long drive to buy the clams.

  • Absolutely beautiful.

    • Thanks Adam. Very tasty yet very simple to prepare. Just how I like it.

  • Looks delightful. As you say, the best Italian dishes are generally very simple, but need top quality ingredients.

    • Thanks Adam. Yes, good ingredients or don’t bother. Particularly with shellfish.

  • Looks delicious, will definitely try this out!

    http://ninegrandstudent.co.uk/

  • Amazing! 🙂 Wish my family liked clams. I would love this.

    • Serve it to them anyway Virginia. They will get to like it….

      • If only that were true! My husband has tried many times with seafood and hasn’t liked any of it. I give him credit for trying but there is something about seafood. My daughter might enjoy it. I’ll have to show her.

  • Seriously rock n roll big lad!!

  • Looks really good! You can also fatten up your clams by adding a bit of corn meal. The only thing is the refrigerator gets to be a bit messy as they consume this.

    • Wow, one learns something new every day. Thanks Barb.

  • Looks lovely Conor! You can fatten your clams a bit by adding corn meal to the water!

  • Besides looking delish, I love the photo of the pouring salt – the reflections, the colours, the movement – really nice!

  • I can almost smell and taste that from here. Delicious.

    • Thanks Linda,
      Pretty tasty indeed. Thanks be to goodness.

  • One of our absolute favorites, prepared the right way. Love the action shots, especially the splashing clam. I forgive you for using cockles (hopefully from Ireland) instead of vongole veraci (from Italy).

    • Thanks Stefan. I had to use them as they were the only ones available. Hard to get the Italian ones fresh in Ireland!

  • Tasty simple pasta is my favourite. Nice work my friend.

  • Love pasta! I will definitely try this soon! Thank you!

  • Stunning. I’m going to try this. Your clams look like cockles. I really admire your knife skills! And beautiful photography as always.

    • I did cheat a bit on the clam end of things. The true clams are hard to get here (though not impossible). A quick and tasty dish all the same.

      • I completely agree. I used to be a fish monger and have never tried cockles. Just wondering how they were. Now I’ll have to recreate this!

        • You won’t be disappointed. Lovely taste of the sea!

  • Delightful! As long as one has a fresh supply of vongole or cockles or whatever available this is so easy and fun for a superquick meal preparation! And I believe you are as pleased as punch that the distaff members of the family are so thrilled with your efforts 🙂 !

    • Thanks Eha, It is quick and flavoursome. Looks impressive too!

  • Bravo! When we met, one of the only two dishes that Steve could make was linguine with clams. But, in those days, they came out of a can. 🙂

    • Great that you have him trained in Michelle. Good work!

  • Bravo Conor – one of our favourite dishes for decades 🙂 !! Love, love your photography, beautiful action shots and your comments! – a great joy to read, as always. And btw, where have you been?? Not seen you around for months.

    • Strange the ways of WordPress. I post every Tuesday. Have done for a couple of years now. I even throw in a bonus post every now and then, if I feel things are going the right way. Thanks for the kind words, and for missing me!

  • Tut – how thoughtless of you. Good looking dish though 😀

    • Thanks Nick. I’ll put up with them, if they will put up with me.

  • Also a favourite of mine, I think there’s a trend here…

    I’ve had some disappointments in the UK – it’s really down to the quality of the clams isn’t it? Worst place was ‘Jamie’s Italian’.Pitiful.

    This is beautifully presented Conor and I’m sure just as delicious. Superb.

    • Thanks Phil, It’s one of those dishes that if you see the clams / cockles, it makes the decision for you.

  • Great looking dish Conor and one of my favorites. I’m sure your wife and mom will forgive you of your transgressions if you make this for them again. 😉

    • Thanks Richard,
      Great to hear from you. We are in France at the moment having a very well earned break from reality.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Who could not love pasta with garlic, olive oil, and fresh clams (or cockles, which look beautiful by the way and now you’ve got me intrigued)? This is one of those dishes that everyone ought to have under his or her belt, along with the ability to grill a steak and make a pie crust. Great post. I love your pour shots. I’m all about freezing the action and you’re all about the smear. Ken

  • This is absolute perfection Conor! LOVE the picture with the water splash. Did Sharon take it?

    • No. I took it myself. Using the 2 sec timer and some quick-handed work. I had hoped to focus on the falling cockles but managed to get the water instead. The picture worked, just not as I had intended.

  • LoL, this phrase drive me laught like a mad woman “This fools the clams into thinking they are back in the ocean and they open and close their shells”
    it’s a kinda psychotic kind of funny

    • Thanks Dedy. Barbara Beecham even suggests feeding them.

  • One of my favorite dishes on earth

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