Spaghetti con Vongole (Clams)
- 2 * 2 lbs fresh Manila clams (Let them sit in cold salted water for 30 minutes to an hour before using)
- 1 * 1 jar (about 6 oz) baby clams, drained but save the clam juice (my local provider didn’t have enough fresh clams left so I’m supplementing with a jar of imported Italian clams)
- 4 * 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 * 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 * 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- 1/4 * 1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 3 * 3 – 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 * 1/2 – 3/4 cup white wine
- * Juice of one lemon
- 1 * 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine
Prepare pasta according to directions.
In a large pan that will accommodate the cooked pasta, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the butter at the same time if you’re using it. I find that it gives the sauce more body but it’s not necessary. When the oil is warmed up, add the red pepper flakes. If they sizzle too much in the oil, turn the heat down before you add the sliced garlic. If it’s okay, add the garlic and cook for a minute, being careful not to let them brown. Add the reserved clam juice and the wine and bring to a boil. After a about 2- 3 minutes, the alcohol should have evaporated and the liquid reduced a bit. Add half of the chopped parsley and the juice of half a lemon and season to taste. I tend to use a whole lemon but this is my preference. Add the rest if your taste buds are like mine.
Add the fresh clams, cover the pan and simmer on medium for about 3 – 4 minutes or until the clams open up. It shouldn’t take much longer than this for all of them to do so. Get rid of the stubborn ones that remain closed. At this point you can either remove the cooked clams and set them aside but I think this is too much work so I leave them in the pan. Add the jar of baby clams and let them warm up in the sauce for a bit. I actually like to use a combination of canned/jarred clams with fresh ones because the juice they come in lends a stronger clam flavor to the final dish. Add the pasta and toss with the sauce. It may look a bit thin but the pasta just needs to sit in the sauce for a bit and absorb some of the liquid. A minute or two should do it. I like to drizzle a little extra olive oil on my pasta after I plate it because I think that olive oil and clams go really well together. Garnish with a lemon wedge and chopped parsley.