Spaghetti alle Vongole (Vongole Pasta)

Nothing beats the simplicity of this dish, yet every time I eat it in restaurants, the taste is slightly different. Perhaps it is the amount of garlic they put in? The freshness of the clams? It’s saltiness?

This recipe originated from Italy wherein carpet-shell clams or bean clams are used. These are usually the clams available in the Italian and Mediterranean region and these clams are typically cooked in piping hot oil, with a ton of garlic, and a splash of white wine.

My recipe is taken from different ways as to how I’ve observed Vongole is made, mixed with more modern versions of clams linguine. Typically, you find no bell peppers in vongole but I find that a touch of that or a very small hint of pimiento livens up the dish and compliments the flavors of the clam, making it taste a bit more buttery. I have no access to European or Mediterranean clams, so for this recipe, I used Manila clams. Clams are typically better when they are cooked right after you have bought them.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Prep time: 15-20 minutes (depending on the condition of the clams)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams of Spaghetti
  • 500 grams of Manila Clams (fresh, scrubbed)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (or more, depends), minced
  • 1 small red chili, chopped (I used Bird’s Eye Chili)
  • 10 grams of minced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • A handful of parsley, chopped coarsely
  • Salt and pepper to tast
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water (salted) until al dente. Set aside 1/2 cup of pasta water.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Once olive oil is hot, add the chili and garlic and bell peppers.

3. When you smell the aroma of the garlic, throw in the clams and add the white wine.

4. Cover with a lid. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until all shells are open. Set aside the clam shells on a plate.

5. Toss the pasta and let it absorb the flavors of the clam. Add pasta water as needed. Once the liquid from the pan has been reduced, add the clams back into the mixture.

6. Turn off the heat and add parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

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