Jul 22, 2015

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
The name is fun to say and it means spaghetti with clams, it’s that simple. While the name is simple the sauce is anything but boring, it is light, yet rich, without any cream and just a little kick from the crushed red pepper.

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The fresher the clams the better spaghetti alle vongole. The name is fun to say and it means spaghetti with clams, it’s that simple. While the name is simple the sauce is anything but boring, it is light, yet rich, without any cream and just a little kick from the crushed red pepper.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

spaghetti alle vongole closeup

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Clams – It is best to buy clams within about 24 hours of when you plan on cooking with them. Store in a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Do not submerge in water. When preparing to cook the clams test to make sure they are still alive but smelling them, if they smell fresh like the sea then they are still alive. Discard any clams that do not open on their own when steamed.
  • Pancetta – Pancetta comes from pork belly and is salted, seasoned, cured and aged for an extended period of time. Pancetta is similar to bacon in flavor though not as smokey. It can be substituted for bacon, speck or guanciale in this recipe. 
  • Garlic – Cooking the garlic in the rendered pancetta fat throughly flavors the sauce.
  • White wine – White wine is the base for the sauce. Use a dry white wine for spaghetti alle vongole since it won’t overpower the dish by making it too sweet. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc.Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink! 
  • Spaghetti – While this is called spaghetti and clams, linguine is equally suitable in this recipe.
spaghetti alle vongole closeup

How to Make Spaghetti Alle Vongole

  1. Clean clams. Scrub clams under cold water to remove any debris and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil.
  2. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pot and set aside.
  3. Cook pancetta. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add pancetta and allow for some of the fat to render from the pancetta, about 5 minutes.
  4. Make the sauce. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crushed pepper, canned clams, clam juice, white wine and lemon juice. Simmer, until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
  5. Steam clams. Arrange the littleneck clams in a single layer in the pan and increase the heat to high. Cover and steam until the clams open, about 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.
  6. Transfer flams to a bowl. As the clams open, use tongs to transfer them to a bowl. Once all the clams have opened and been removed from the pan, stir the butter into the sauce, stirring until the butter has melted.
  7. Continue to toss spaghetti in sauce. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta to the pan, tossing in the sauce and covering until the pasta is warm and has absorbed some of the sauce.
  8. Assemble the pasta. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to warm pasta bowls. Top the pasta with the littleneck clams and divide the remaining sauce among the bowls; garnish with parsley.
  9. Serve. Serve immediately with bread on the side to dip in the white wine sauce.
spaghetti alle vongole

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup diced pancetta
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can whole clams, drained and juices set aside
  • 4 tablespoons clam juice
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
  • 1 loaf French bread, sliced into 1” slices, for serving

Instructions:

  • Scrub clams under cold water to remove any debris and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil.
  • Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pot and set aside.
  • Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add pancetta and allow for some of the fat to render from the pancetta, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crushed pepper, canned clams, clam juice, white wine and lemon juice. Simmer, until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
  • Arrange the littleneck clams in a single layer in the pan and increase the heat to high. Cover and steam until the clams open, about 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.
  • As the clams open, use tongs to transfer them to a bowl. Once all the clams have opened and been removed from the pan, stir the butter into the sauce, stirring until the butter has melted.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta to the pan, tossing in the sauce and covering until the pasta is warm and has absorbed some of the sauce.
  • To serve, use tongs to transfer the pasta to warm pasta bowls. Top the pasta with the littleneck clams and divide the remaining sauce among the bowls; garnish with parsley.
  • Serve immediately with bread on the side to dip in the white wine sauce.

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