A summertime classic, spaghetti alle vongole is the perfect warm weather meal.
It’s also not difficult to cook, as long as you’re mindful of a couple of things: first, clams are naturally salty, so no need to salt the pasta water too much; and, in order to make sure the clams are clean, soak and refresh the salt water until no grit remains in the bottom of the bowl.
How to Make It
- 3 lb small clams, such as pasta clams or cockles
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb (454 g) spaghetti or linguine
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
- ¾ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- ¼ cup thinly sliced parsley stems
- 1 to 2 red finger chilies, thinly sliced or ½ tsp to 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- At least two hours before serving, or up to 1 day ahead, scrub each clam thoroughly under cool running water. Discard any clams that are broken or open when raw. Combine salt and cool water in a large bowl, with a ratio of 1 tbsp salt for every 1 quart of water. Soak clams in salt water for 2 hours, refreshing salt water every 30 minutes. Proceed or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. In this time, the clams will purge any remaining debris into the salt water. Just before using, drain and rinse clams once more.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until very al dente, 3 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1½ cups pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add oil, garlic, and anchovies, if using, to a cold large pot. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic begins to brown, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil.
- Set a large bowl nearby. Add clams to the pot with wine. Cook uncovered, tossing occasionally, until clams open, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size. Transfer opened clams to bowl as they open. Cover to keep warm. Discard any that do not open.
- Add parsley stems and chili to cooking liquid. Cook until parsley stems are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Then, add pasta, butter, and half the reserved pasta water. Cook, stirring often, until al dente, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add clams and chopped parsley. Toss to combine. Add more pasta water, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
How to enjoy it
For best results, shop for clams about 1½-inches wide. While smaller clams are ideal, do prioritize freshness over size.
For ease of eating, remove about half the cooked clams from the shells while the parsley stems and chilies simmer in the broth.