While traveling in Italy, we enjoyed many fresh seafood dishes that were simply prepared. One such classic dish was spaghetti alle vongole, Italian for spaghetti with clams. This dish will vary through the regions, cities and restaurants but always includes just a few ingredients. One thing is a constant…it is simple, fast and delicious. The briny juices, tender sweet clam meat, garlic, and olive oil combine into one truly delectable dish.
Spaghetti alle Vongole
- 1/2 lb. spaghetti
- 16 – 22 small fresh clams, (if fresh, purged and cleaned) or frozen
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped fine
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 1 bottle (8 oz.) clam juice
- 1 small can minced clams
- 1/2 tsp. or to taste chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and stir until combined, about 1 minute. Add the wine and let reduce. Add the clam juice and clams. Cover the pot and steam for about 3 minutes until clams open. Remove the clams with a slotted spoon to a bowl and cover.
Add the minced clams, chili flakes and butter. Sprinkle the flour over the sauce and stir. Cook for several minutes until slightly thickened.
When the pasta is al dente, add to the sauce (saving a cup of pasta water). Add the parsley and oregano and toss well. Add a little pasta water if the pasta appears dry. Plate and garnish with the whole clams.
Italians do not think that cheese should be added to this or any seafood dish. We have been to restaurants in Italy where waiters have actually refused to bring cheese to customers who asked for it on a seafood dish. We were with friends that insisted on cheese and the waiter refused. Not only refused but said that our friend could leave the restaurant if he wasn’t happy.
If you would like to add fresh grated cheese to this dish, I will turn my head. Just don’t ask for it in Italy.