Spaghettini with Fake Clam Sauce

Spaghettini alle Finte Vongole

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

This was a favorite in our house when I was growing up, and the following recipe is not very different from one my mother included in her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook. We used to call it “fake” clam sauce because it’s actually made with anchovies, although it tastes remarkably like clam sauce.

Total time: 45 minutes


  • 2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes or 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3 to 4 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley 5 anchovy fillets
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghettini


  1. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop enough of the parsley leaves to measure 1 tablespoon.
  2. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  3. Chop the anchovy fillets and put them in a medium skillet with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the anchovies are dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook until the tomatoes are reduced and no longer watery, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghettini, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente, then drain it well. Toss the pasta with the sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve at once.