Clams and Spaghetti Alle Vongole

  • Servings: 2

The season for clams is now on. Clams are molluscs and live half way buried in the sand of the sea floor. They are very nutritious with many health benefits. They are a lean source of protein and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Before cooking them we have to clean them as follows:

Submerge the clams for 20 minutes in cold salty water. Repeat a second time if needed with another batch of salty water. This will allow the clams to be purged of the sand and grit.

Then clean the shells with a brush if there are any attachments such as barnacles. Usually their shells are cleaner than the mussels. Discard any broken or open clams. Finally leave them to soak this time in cold unsalted water (about 10 minutes) to rinse out any excess salt they have absorbed.

The most common way to cook clams is to steam them until they open. But I prefer to cook them with the following Italian sauce and eat them on their own or add them to spaghetti thus making the “spaghetti alle vongole”. The latter is made with 2 different sauces, Bianco or Rosso. I prefer the Bianco sauce which is without tomatoes. The Rosso has tomatoes.

If you have many cooked clams and you want to prepare the “spaghetti alle vongole” then I would advise you to add to the sauce some clam meat without the shells. This is to avoid to have too many shells in the spaghetti.


  • 500g or more of live clams, cleaned as specified above
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Chopped red chilli, to your taste
  • A splash or two of white wine
  • Olive oil (generous drizzle)
  • A big handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Black pepper and salt, to taste
  • 200g of spaghetti to be cooked al dente. I use wholewheat spaghetti.


Step 1

After having cleaned the clams, put water some salt in a large pot on high heat. When the water has boiled, cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan then add the garlic and the chilli and stir fry until fragrant. Don’t colour the garlic. Next, add the clams, the white wine and the seasonings. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the clams are open. Discard any unopened clam. Put the parsley and mix to combine. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Step 3

Add the drained spaghetti and toss well. Your spaghetti alle vongole is ready to be served! Or, instead of using spaghetti, eat your clams with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

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