Spaghetti with Clams

Spaghetti alle Vongole


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves



Appears in

The Classic Pasta Cookbook

The Classic Pasta Cookbook

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 1993

  • About

The trick to getting the best flavor in this dish is to finish cooking the spaghetti in the pan along with the sauce so the pasta absorbs the juices that the clams gave off as they steamed open. The clams that take the longest to steam open are the freshest -- don’t discard them. Do, however, discard clams that are open when you buy them and don’t snap shut if you tap them; they are dead.


  • 3 dozen small clams in their shells
  • ½ pound fresh ripe tomato
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Wash the clams in several changes of cold water until you do not see any sand at the bottom of the bowl. Peel the tomato, remove the seeds, and cut into ¼ dice. Finely chop the garlic and parsley.
  2. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat
  3. Put the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes in a large skillet (large enough to hold the clams and the pasta later) and place over medium high heat. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol evaporates, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Add the clams, and cover the pan. Cook until all the clams have opened, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t be concerned if some clams take longer to open, they are the freshest ones. When the clams are open, remove the pan from the heat and set aside. The sauce should have a thick soupy consistency at this point.
  4. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. When the pasta is very al dente, drain well, and add to the pan with the clams and place over high heat. Cook for a minute or so until the pasta is done and has absorbed some of the sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and serve at once.