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Spaghetti alle vongole bianco

The Ligurian coast is sadly not rich in fish so the traditional cooking does not feature the wide variety of fish dishes found a few kilometers away in France or in other regions of Italy. Stoccafisso (salt cod) is very much a local dish but it is really anchovies, sardines and shellfish which are the fishy stars of the Ligurian diet.

Spaghetti alle vongole is on the menu of just about every restaurant in the region but like everything in Italy there are many ways of cooking it with everyone arguing their corner about what is best. I prefer it ‘bianco’ without the tomato but with extra chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon, sometimes even adding the lemon zest. Some people add a knob of butter along with the oil.

On our coast when you order vongole expect it to come with mussels and all sorts of shellfish, I suppose whatever was available that morning at the fish market. 


Recipe

Ingredients

  • Vongole (clams) or mussels or a mixture of the two, 1 kg/ 2.2lb
  • Nudo extra virgin olive oil, a generous glug 
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Flat leaf parsley, a small bunch
  • White wine, 1 glass or roughly 100 ml/ 3.3 fl oz
  • Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • Dried spaghetti, 400g/ 14oz
Vongole (clams) or mussels or a mixture of the two, 1 kg/ 2.2lb Nudo extra virgin olive oil, a generous glug  Garlic, 3 cloves Flat leaf parsley, a small bunch White wine, 1 glass or roughly 100 ml/ 3.3 fl oz Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper Dried spaghetti, 400g/ 14oz

Method

  1. Rinse the clams in cold running water to get rid of any debris and discarding any that aren’t tightly closed. Allow the clams to soak in salty cold water for an hour or so to get rid of any sand and then rinse well under cold water until clean
  2.  Get the spaghetti on in a large pan of salted boiling water with the lid on and cook until a couple of minutes under the recommended time on the packet so that it remains al dente
  3. Finely slice the parsley stalks and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and chop the garlic
  4. Measure out 100 ml of white wine
  5. Add a generous lug of Nudo extra virgin olive oil to the pan. Fry the garlic and parsley stalks for about 5 minutes until soft taking care to keep the heat low so it does not catch
  6. Drain the clams and turn up the heat on the pan
  7. Add the clams giving the pan a good shake. As it starts to steam put the lid on and cook for 3–4 minutes until the clams have opened. Pour in the wine, cover and leave for a couple of minutes until the clams have opened discarding any that are still closed
  8. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan of clams
  9. Add the parsley leaves and a generous drizzle of Nudo extra virgin olive oil. Toss it around in the pan like an Italian mama for a few minutes mixing it all together so that the lovely juice absorbs into the pasta
  10. Serve with plenty of bread to soak up the juice