This classic Italian recipe is the essential dish based on few – yet excellent – ingredients. It’s very easy to make, and all it takes is some patience with the clams. Spaghetti with clams makes a perfect weeknight dinner, paired with a simple salad and a glass of Enotria Novantuno Bianco from Calabria.
1 pound dry spaghetti
2 pounds fresh clams
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves
Chilli flakes, to taste (optional)
Start with cleaning the clams. Discard any broken or open clam. Rinse them under running water, and scrub until they’re clean. Place the clams in a colander, and put the colander in a bowl of salted water. Make sure the water is salty enough (like the sea) and that the colander has some distance from the bottom of the bowl. Let sit for 2-3 hours. This way the clams will naturally purge any sand off into the salty water.
As an alternative, you can agitate and rinse the clams in and change the water (no need to salt) in the bowl at least 5 times, until the water at the bottom is completely clear and there is no sand left.
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a large pan on a medium high flame, heat the olive oil, garlic cloves and chilli flakes, if desired. Add the clams, cover the pot with its lid, and shake the pan occasionally to help the clams open. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
Remove the lid and see if all the clams are open. Add the wine. Unless the clams haven’t opened up, there’s no need to put the lid back on. Let the wine cook and be absorbed.
Once all the clams are cooked and the liquid is reduced, with a slotted spoon remove the clams from the pan to a bowl. Discard the garlic cloves.
Cook the spaghetti in salted water until very al dente, since the pasta will complete its cooking later in the pan with clams.
In the meantime discard any clam that hasn’t opened. You can remove all the clams from the shells if you want to. I prefer removing only half. Toss the spaghetti and the clams back in the pan with the cooking liquid over high heat. For a creamy result, mix well and toss vigorously. Add half of the chopped parsley. Remove from heat and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with the rest of the chopped parsley and serve immediately.