Neapolitans love clams. The outdoor fish stalls have clams of all sizes just out of the bay on display in buckets of water. For me, the smaller the better.
I love vongole verace, those clams the size of your thumb, but you have to cook a lot so everyone gets plenty of the tiny, tender clams. Sometimes I want a fatter clam and these larger ones were perfect, meaty but tender. Just right.
This is a dish that’s ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Just put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. When the spaghetti goes into the boiling water, make the clam sauce.
Heat olive oil, with garlic, parsley and chili flakes in another pot. When the oil is hot and the garlic is translucent, add the clams and a splash of white wine, cover the pot and steam the clams until they open.
When the spaghetti is cooked very al dente add it to the clam sauce and mix well. The spaghetti will finish cooking as it absorbs the clam broth. Sprinkle the spaghetti with chopped Italian parsley, drizzle on some extra virgin oil and serve. You’ll be eating in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.
The spaghetti sticks to the tooth. The briny tender clams are redolent with garlic. The chili flakes add a sparkle to every bite and when I’m done my tongue tingles for a while. The pristine taste of the sea in bowl. Delicious.
- 1 pound (500 grams) spaghetti
- 24 clams
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Italian flat parsley sprigs, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Bring 5 quarts of water in a large pot to a boil for the pasta. Add 2 tablespoons sea salt.
- Wash the clams well. (I put mine in a bowl of water and sprinkle polenta on them to help clean out the grit as the clams eat the cornmeal.)
- Put the olive oil, garlic, parsley and chili flakes in a pot big enough to hold the clams.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot and the garlic translucent, add the clams and the wine.
- Cover the pot and steam the clams until they open.
- Take the clams out of the pot and set aside in a bowl,
- When the pasta is very al dente, drain it and add it to the pot with the clam sauce.
- Toss the spaghetti as it finishes cooking. The spaghetti absorbs the clam sauce. (If you don’t have enough liquid, add some pasta water to the sauce.)
- When most of the liquid is absorbed, put the clams back in the pot. (I take most of the clams out of the shell and save a couple for each plate of spaghetti as a garnish).
- Toss the spaghetti well with the clams.
- Put the spaghetti with clams on a large serving platter and scatter the clams in the shell all around.
- Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve immediately.