Spaghetti with clams in one way or another is always popular. Here, tomatoes and just a little cream bring it together. The clams are cooked separately to the tomatoes in case they dislodge sand.
Soak the clams in a large bowl of cold salted water for a couple of hours to get rid of any sand. Give them a good swishing around in the soaking water a few times and change the water if there is any sand. Discard any clams that are well opened.
In a large frying pan that will hold all the pasta later, stir the chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it smells good. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and the chilli. Simmer for just under 10 minutes, squashing any tomato lumps with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and heat through, then remove from the heat.
In another pan that has a lid, heat the last tablespoon of olive oil with the whole garlic clove. When the garlic has perfumed the oil add the drained clams, parsley clump and a grind of pepper. Pour in the wine. Put the lid on and turn the heat right up to steam the clams open. This should only take 5 minutes or so. Check to see if they’ve opened and give it a couple more minutes for any that haven’t. Remove from the heat and cool a tad. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. When they are cool enough to handle, pluck out around half of the clam meat, putting it back in the pan and discarding those shells. Leave the rest of the clams in their shells in the pan. Remove the whole garlic clove and parsley clump. Add the clams to the tomato pan, checking as you pour that there is no sand on the bottom of the pan and therefore giving no need to filter in the clam water.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti to al dente. When the pasta is just about ready, put the pan holding the clams over a high flame to heat through, then add the drained spaghetti. Turn through well. Let it heat through for a minute, then scatter with the chopped parsley and serve at once with a good grind of black pepper. Serve with a plate for the shells.
© 2012 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.