Spaghetti Salsa Rossa with Clams

Usually a simple accompaniment for boiled or grilled meats, salsa rossa combined with clams makes a great pasta sauce. Like salsa verde it keeps well in a screw-top jar in the fridge for up to a month. Canned baby clams (vongole in Italian) are one of the best canned products I know. You could use fresh palourdes, but I promise you the vongole are great and sometimes it is nice to know that all you have to do is reach for the can opener. With a salsa rossa ready in the fridge and spaghetti and canned clams in the cupboard, you have everything you need for an impromptu supper. for a more detailed treatment of the cooking of spaghetti.


  • 350g/12oz best-quality dried spaghetti
  • salt and pepper

For the Salsa Rossa

  • 2 red sweet peppers
  • 1 small (hot) red chilli
  • 4 onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g/14oz canned Italian plum tomatoes (or passata)
  • 285g 10oz canned baby clams


  • large saucepan
  • sauté pan
  • food processor
  • saucepan
  • colander
  • tongs


Mise en Place

Put a large pan of salted water to heat for the pasta.

Prepare the sauce ingredients: preheat a hot grill. Cut the peppers in half, scrape out the seeds and grill the outsides until they blister. Scrape off the skin and dice the flesh • Split, deseed and chop the chilli • Peel and chop the onions and garlic.


Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and gently sauté the onions and garlic until soft and translucent Add the chopped peppers and the chilli and continue frying gently for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Do not brown.

Add the tomatoes with the juice from the can, turn up the heat a little and cook for a final 10 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the pan to the food processor and purée. The salsa rossa can now be held in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (film the top with olive oil to help it keep).

When the water is boiling rapidly, cook the pasta.

Put just enough of the salsa rossa (I like to use no more than about 2 generous tablespoons per person) into another pan and warm it through. After 5 minutes, add the clams with their liquid to the sauce. Turn up the heat and bubble through gently.

Taste the spaghetti after 8 minutes. When cooked al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), rush to the colander, drain quickly and return to the pan while a little water still holds to the strands. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat.


Serve immediately in warmed bowls. Do not serve Parmesan cheese with this dish.