My brother has asked me to submit a post with my recipe for Spaghetti Alle Vongole, so this entry is dedicated to him and to all the spaghetti alle Vongole we have enjoyed together, especially under the bright sunshine of Capri.
Most recipes here in the U.S. use Linguini, I am not sure why this tradition has become so popular, but my preference has always been to use spaghetti, I feel they better compliment the unctuous sauce that is created by this recipe and they just feel better “sulla forchetta”, on the fork.
I also prefer to “stain” my sauce with a little bit of tomato, usually, at least in most restaurants in Italy you are given a choice of “in bianco” (white wine sauce) or “rosso” with tomato. My recipe meets these options somewhere in the middle, a characteristic I found to be popular at most seaside villages along the Amalfi coast and on my favorite place in the world, the Island of Capri.
1 or 2 ripe Roma tomatoes cut up or just “squished” with your hands.
2 whole garlic cloves
A splash of white wine (1/2 cup)
Good Spaghetti (Not Ronzoni, get something decent like De Checco or any other true Italian pasta)… I use about ¾ of a one pound bag for 2 people.
Now for the clams… I usually use Manila Clams because they are smaller but unfortunately here in the U.S. have very little taste, unlike the vongole you find in the Mediterranean. So I have recently changed to little neck clams and I ask my fishmonger to pick out the smaller ones if possible – this is your best option. For two people I get about two dozen clams.
A fistful of chopped parsley
Salt (don’t be shy)
Bring a pot of water to boil with enough salt so it tastes like the sea. (Again… don’t be shy)
Coat your favorite pan with olive oil and heat up so it’s nice and hot (not smoking), add the tomatoes, a good pinch of salt and let them simmer and stew until they start to dissolve. Be patient, you don’t want uncooked tomatoes, you want them to almost create a sauce with the olive oil so let nature and the heat do their work. Once you are happy with the consistency of the sauce, add the two cloves of garlic. I use whole garlic to avoid there being too many piece scattered throughout the sauce and I also suggest you add the garlic once the tomatoes are well cooked to avoid the garlic from burning. Let the garlic mingle with the sauce for about a minute and then add your clams. Give it a stir and add the wine, cover over medium high heat and let the clams cook and open up – shake the pan now and again to get the process going. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the clams have all opened – discard any unopened clams. Once they have all opened, I personally shuck them and get the clams out of the shells and mix them back into the sauce, I see no need to have a bunch of shells in your plate if not for decorative purposes… By now your pasta should be cooked “al dente”, add pasta to the sauce in the pan conserving some of the pasta water. Mix and sauté well letting the sauce and the pasta marry together in perfect harmony.
Add a splash of pasta water for benediction – make sure you cook off the liquid so it is not too soupy – and finally at the very end a splash of fresh olive oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
Divide equally, to avoid any fights, between two plates and enjoy.