Recipe: Spaghetti alle Vongole
Updated: May 28
This incredibly simple but fresh and delicious recipe from Sophie Grigson and William Black's book 'Fish', transports us straight to the Mediterranean coast on a hot summers day. Almost every one of the ingredients is a household staple; the only exception being the clams which you should be able to get from your local fishmonger.
2kg small clams, such as palourdes or venus clams
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons Domaine de Gerbaud olive oil, plus a little extra
450g (1 lb) tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
350-450g thin spaghetti
Salt and pepper
Scrub the clams under running water, discarding any that will not close when firmly rapped against a hard surface. Pour water to a depth of 1cm (1/2 inch) into a pan large enough to hold the clams. Heat until boiling. Add the clams and cover tightly. Shake over the heat for a few minutes until all the clams have opened. Discard any that refuse to open.
Take the clams out of the pan and boil the cooking liquid down hard, until reduced by half. Strain to remove any grit and then reserve. Set aside 12 clams on their shells and pick the clam meat out of the remaining shells.
Soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat without browing, until translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, parsley, sugar, pepper and a little salt (not too much, as the clam juices may be rather salty). Pour in the reserved clam-cooking liquid. Boil down until the sauce is thick and pulpy. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, toss with a splash of olive oil and keep warm. Stir the shelled clams into the sauce and re-heat gently. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and scatter over the reserved clams in their shells. Serve immediately.