This, is hands-down, my favorite pasta dish. Spaghetti alle Vongole or Spaghetti with Clams is fresh, sweet and you could end up eating a lot without noticing it, because even if it’s pasta, it feels light (?!); and the best part, it takes no more than 15 minutes to get it ready. You put the pasta on first and while waiting for it to be ready, start cooking the clams in a different pan. By the time the pasta is ready, just transfer them directly in the pan with the clams, mix a bit, add parsley – and it’s ready for serving! 😀
I had the best Spaghetti alle Vongole in Napoli, and it made quite an impression on me that up to this day, I prefer to cook it exactly the way I had them in Napoli – that is, without tomatoes. I feel that the white wine provides enough acidity in the sauce and when mixed with the juices of the clams, the outcome is a sweet sauce that does not overpower the flavor of the seafood.
The freshness of the clams, of course, makes a huge difference. While I had my best spaghetti alle vongole in Napoli, I also had the worst one in a different part of Italy. I remember the menu said it was ‘fresh’, but it was obviously frozen and the worst part, the shells were just added for decorations; they were empty! But I digress. 🙂 My point is, use fresh, good quality clams, and make sure you get rid of those with broken or slightly opened shells.
- 500 grams (1/2 kilo) clams, cleaned and scrubbed
- 200 grams spaghetti
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 red chili, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (a bit more for garnish, if desired)
Bring a big pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
As soon as you put the pasta in the boiling water, pour olive oil in another pan and keep it on medium-low setting.
Once olive oil is ready, add both garlic and chili in the pan. NOTE: If you are not too keen on spicy food, you should only use half of the chili.
Once garlic becomes fragrant, add the clams in the pan and pour the wine. Shake the pan lightly and let the wine evaporate. Once the wine has almost evaporated, mix the clams with a wooden spoon. Make sure each piece has opened.
By this time, the pasta should be almost ready. Take the pasta out of the boiling water one minute BEFORE the indicated cooking time in the package. Use tongs to transfer the pasta directly to the pan with the clams and mix to combine. If you think there is not enough sauce, add a bit of pasta water.
Add parsley, mix and take off the heat.
Serve and add more parsley for garnish, if desired.