Square Spaghetti with Clams, Zucchini, and Carrots

Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Vongole, Zucchine, e Carote


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

Italians often pair vegetables with seafood. This combination of clams with zucchini and carrots is a particular favorite at our house.

Total time: 1 hour


  • 1 pound small zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 6 to 8 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 dozen little neck or Manila clams
  • 1 pound spaghetti alla chitarra or spaghetti


  1. Cut the zucchini into ½-inch dice. Peel the carrots and cut into ¼-inch dice.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Put it in a 12-inch skillet with the olive oil. Place over medium-high heat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the onion is sautéing, peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop enough of the parsley leaves to measure 2 tablespoons. When the onion is done, add the garlic and parsley and cook for another minute. Add the carrots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are very tender and some have begun to brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  4. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, rinse the clams in several changes of cold water until you do not see any sand at the bottom of the bowl. Put them in a saucepan with about ½ inch water and place over medium-high heat. Cook, covered, until all the clams are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t be concerned if some clams take longer to open, they are the freshest ones. Remove the clams from the pan and set aside, saving the liquid in the pan. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, take the clams out of the shell and cut them into pieces about the size of a large pea. Put the clams in a small bowl with the liquid from the saucepan.
  6. Once the vegetables are done, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until just shy of al dente.
  7. Lift the clams from the liquid and add them to the vegetables. Carefully pour in the clam liquid, taking care not to add any sand that may have settled at the bottom. Raise the heat to high and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce, so reserve a little of the liquid in the pan.
  8. When the pasta is ready, drain it well and transfer to the skillet with the sauce. Cook for about 1 minute until the pasta is completely done and it has absorbed the remaining liquid in the sauce. Serve at once.


You can make the sauce up to 2 hours ahead of time but wait to add the clams until you are ready to cook the pasta. Do not refrigerate.