Spaghettini con Vongole Veraci

Spaghettini with Clams

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Preparation info

  • 6

    • Difficulty


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Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

When the Italians sneer at ‘stranieri’ (foreigners or barbarians) because they know nothing about food, they always pick on two particular sins. Firstly drinking cappuccino after 11 in the morning: to them to ask for cappuccino after dinner is like asking for shredded wheat as your dessert. Cappuccino is breakfast. Secondly, and even more serious, is putting Parmesan on Spaghettini con Vongole Veraci. Only an uncultured lout or a British tourist could do this.

This dish is simplicity itself – it just needs confidence and practice. It involves two processes: the cooking of spaghettini and the cooking of vongole veraci (palourde clams) in flavoured oil. The two are combined, parsley and a little of the cooking water is added, and bingo, a marvellous dish.


  • 500 g spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
  • 1.5 kg palourde clams salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Infused Oil
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped


Put 5 litres water on to boil and salt lightly. Rinse the clams thoroughly under cold water for 1 hour. Discard any broken ones.

When the water is boiling, heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add a little olive oil to this, and throw in the clams. Do not cover. At the same time drop the spaghettini in the boiling water and stir. Do not cover. The spaghettini will take 8 minutes, so have your colander ready in the sink. The clams will open at odd times. If you are being really fussy, remove the early openers (after 2 or 3 minutes), and set aside. The reason for this is that these early birds will overcook and fall out of their shells, leaving your guests with the extreme disappointment of empty shells.

When the spaghettini is done, drain it, reserving a little water in a jug. Return the pasta swiftly to the pan. Tip in the clams, return to the heat, and add the infused oil and parsley. Toss thoroughly and serve.

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