A simple, classic pasta dish that feels both comforting and fancy.
Spaghetti alle vongole is a happy dish. I don’t think I have ever eaten it and been unhappy. When I have it, all I can see are blue skies and blue sea. Sometimes I’ve had vongole with blue skies and blue sea in my actual view, but even when I’m looking at a wall in my home or a restaurant, it’s still blue sea that I see.
Some people are intimidated by cooking with clams, which can take a while to soak and scrub. But you’re past that, I would argue that this spaghetti is one of the easiest dishes in the book.
serves 4 to 6
- Fine sea salt
- 2¼ lbs clams
- 8 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- ⅔ cup dry white wine
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb dried spaghetti
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- A few sprigs of fresh parsley
- Fill a large bowl or pot with salted water and add the clams. Let stand for at least 1 hour to eliminate the sand. Drain the clams and rinse several times until there is no more sand. Scrub if necessary.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the clams, 2 of the garlic cloves, the wine, and some pepper.
- Cover and cook until all the clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook them or they will be chewy and lose their taste.
- Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the clams from the pan to a large bowl. Strain the remaining cooking juices through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl. Discard the garlic.
- Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain.
- Return the sauté pan to medium heat. Once it is dry, add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and garlic clove. Cook for a few minutes until the garlic has browned, then discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes, clams, and half of the chopped parsley. Pour in the strained cooking juices.
- Add the spaghetti to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Toss gently so the pasta is coated with the pan juices. Add a drizzle of olive oil, scatter the rest of the chopped parsley over the top, and serve immediately.
Old World Italian: $40; penguinrandomhouse.com
Excerpted from Old World Italian: Recipes and Secrets from our Travels in Italy by Mimi Thorisson. Copyright © 2020 Marie-France Thorisson. Photography Copyright © 2020 Oddur Thorisson. Published by Appetite by Random House ®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.