Pasta with white clam sauce

In Italy, this is pasta con vongole. We ate it many times when traveling in Italy, the Adriatic clams are supposed to be special. Even so, you can make a surprisingly good sauce with canned clams (but see below for fresh clams). This is a version I developed over many years. There are many variations possible. You can replace the parsley with fresh basil, replace the wine with bottled clam juice and a squeeze of lemon, etc. Also, if you have fresh clams, you can leave the clams in the shell and serve for each diner to pick out their own. But in my opinion this is solely for appearance and just makes the dish harder to eat while saving the cooks some work.

Two 7 ounce cans of minced or whole clams (your preference)
1/2 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1″ piece of dried hot red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 c dry white wine or 1/3 c dry white vermouth
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 c minced fresh parsley

Using Fresh Clams: Put a couple of dozen clams in a big pot with 1/2 c of water or dry white wine. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam until all or at least most of the clams open. Discard unopened clams. Remove the clams from the shells and set aside (chop if desired). Strain the steaming liquid thru a coffee filter of paper towel to remove any grit. The use in the following recipe in place of canned clams.

Put garlic and oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan and put over low heat. Let cook slowly for 15-20 minutes – the garlic should sizzle slowly but not brown at all, or maybe just slightly. Drain the clams and add the clam juice, the wine, red and white pepper, and parsley and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and stir in the clams.

While the sauce is simmering cook 3/4 lb of imported Italian pasta (I like the De Cecco brand). As for shape, I think that regular spaghetti or thin spaghetti goes well with this sauce. Linguini is also a classic accompaniment. Cook the pasta until it is about 15-20 seconds shy of being done to your liking. Drain and return to the pan. Add the sauce and stir to mix. Let sit covered over very low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Crusty bread, a mixed green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and a dry Italian white (such as a soave or pinot grigio) are great accompaniments.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ethnic, Pasta, Seafood

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