Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Baby Clams)


I will be completely honest.

Everything that says optional in the recipe is optional because it’s not traditional.  I just have a thing for a sauce made with garlic, shallots, white wine, lemon, and butter.  So I took some liberties.  Small liberties just to make it something I liked a little bit better.  I did however put optional in red italics as a warning.

I also make a lot of extra broth because I get into “scarpetti”.  Scarpetti means “little shoes”.  It’s basically just tearing off a piece of bread and then mopping up the juices with it.

But I’m not going to stop here with the impromptu Italian language lesson.

I also have an amazing tip for you.

If you look at your pasta spoon, you might notice a hole in the center.

This….is a serving.  Not an Italian sized pasta serving.  Italian servings are huge and we’ll talk about it at another time.

This is the serving recommended by nutritionists.  How cool is that!  Just measure out your dry pasta through the handy opening, and you’re good to go.

Unless you encounter this:


Three different sized measurements.  Huh?  I named them 2 oz. 4 oz.  and “I don’t care what the heck you say I’m going with this much”.

Anyway, it was a cool tip until I noticed the discrepancies.  So just make as much pasta as you feel like eating.

This recipe is for 1 person, but just double it for 2!

Spaghetti alle Vongole

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced shallot optional

pinch red pepper flakes

1/3 C white wine

1/3 C clam juice

12 little clams

2 T rough chopped italian parsley

salt and pepper

2-4 oz spaghetti

smidgeon of butter optional

lemon zest optional

If necessary, purge the clams to get rid of any sand they might have.  Scrub the outside with stiff brush.  I did not do this, because they were very clean and other people had eaten them and said they weren’t sandy.

Bring your pasta water to boiling and add some salt.  Not a lot, because the clams can be pretty salty.  Heat a heavy saute pan to just under medium.  Add olive oil, then garlic and shallot. Cook for maybe 1 minute – the garlic will be a toasty brown color.  Put your clams in, the red pepper, and pour the wine and clam juice over the top.  Cover and cook, shaking the pan a bit to roll the shells around, until the shells pop open.  These were about the size of a silver dollar, and so they only took about 5-6 minutes to cook.

Look at your pasta directions and plan accordingly.  My pasta said 9 minutes to al dente, I said HOGWASH.  You’ll want to pull the pasta out of the water a minute or 2 before it is done so you can finish cooking it in the saute pan.  I figured about 6 minutes would be good.

As soon as the clams pop open, pull them out and put them in your dish.  Add your pasta directly from the water to the broth in the saute pan.  No need to drain.  Add your parsley, and put the clams back in.  Cook for maybe a minute or 2.  Add the wee butter if you want.  Taste the broth.  I did not need to add any salt at all.

Pour out into a dish and serve immediately with a bit of lemon zest, fresh cracked pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.


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