Spaghetti con Vongole

Spaghetti con Vongole

Spaghetti con vongole -- spaghetti with clams -- is a classic pasta dish that can only be made with acutely fresh clams that are still in their shells.  While you can make this dish with almost any kind of clams, I prefer the small, sweet cherrystone or littleneck clams that can be bought in most fish markets year-round. 

Because once out of their shells these clams are very small, I also prefer to make this dish with spaghettini, a slightly more delicate long strand pasta.

Cooking With Fresh Clams

Serves 2 as a main course. To serve 4, use the same quantities except double the number of clams, increase the wine to 1 cup, and cook 1 pound of spaghettini.



  1. Remove the clams from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before you plan to cook them. Scrub any dirt from their shells and place the clams, fully immersed, in a large bowl of cold water. Let sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes to let the clams expel any sand. Lift the clams from the water, drain and rinse the bowl and repeat for as many times as needed to get a clear bowl of water.
  2. When the water finally is clear of sand, drain the clams.
  3. In a large sauté pan that has a cover, place the olive oil and put over medium high heat. Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is light golden brown, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the white wine and stir. Let the liquid boil for about 30 seconds to combine and cook down just a little bit.
  5. Add the rinsed clams to the pan. Stir to combine everything and cover tightly, leaving the pan over a medium high heat so that it gently boils.
  6. In about 4 minutes, lift the cover and check to see if all the clams have opened. Depending on the size of your pan and how crowded the clams are together, it could take another two minutes or so for all the clams to open. If any clams remain tightly closed, remove and discard them.
  7. Lower the heat and using tongs and a fork, remove the clams from their open shells, discarding the shells and returning the clams to the hot liquid.
  8. While the clams are steaming, cook the spaghettini according to the package directions, to just al dente -- be sure to not over-cook the pasta because it will be added to the hot clam broth and will cook a bit more then.
  9. When the pasta is finished cooking and the clams have opened and you've removed the shells, add the pasta and the fresh parsley to the clams and toss to combine.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.




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