Spaghetti Alle Vongole Veraci (Spaghetti with Manila clams)

I just returned from a two week trip to Sicily with Daniel. It was great to get away, just the two of us. We walked, we ate, we walked some more. We looked at a lot of Greek and Roman ruins, absorbed the incredible history of Sicily, a country who welcomed many different cultures and managed to keep bits and pieces of all of them. Then we ate some more.

The seafood in Sicily is incredible if you stick with the local fish. There is an endless supply of swordfish, sea bass, scorpion fish and crustaceans. One of my favorite dishes is Spaghetti Alle vongole Veraci. Vongole Veraci are small Manila clams. They meat is more delicate and sweeter than other types of clams and the shells are small and beautifully colored with purple.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did, sitting at a table by the sea.

Three generous servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Manila clams
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 9oz dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Method

  1. Inspect clams and throw out any with broken shells. If they are open, tap on the shell. If it closes its alive and healthy, otherwise throw it out. Place clams in a bowl of cold, salty water to cover and let them sit 30 minutes in the refrigerator. After 30 minutes, remove the clams from the water and inspect to see if there’s any grit. If there is, rinse the bowl, put in the clams With fresh water and refrigerate another 30 minutes. Keep doing this until you don’t see any more grit.
  2. Sauté garlic in olive oil over a medium low heat until just turning gold. Add red pepper and wine and take off the flame.
  3. Boil water for pasta and salt the water lightly since the clams are already salty
  4. Once the water starts to boil, add the pasta and cook about two minutes less than the instructions on the box suggest for al dente. It will cook more in the clam broth
  5. Bring the olive oil and wine to a boil over high heat. Drain the clams and put in the pot. I like to use a straight sided sauté pan with a lid, large enough so I have a single layer of clams. Cover and cook 30 seconds. Lift the cover and remove any clams that have opened. Place them in a bowl and recover for another 15 seconds. Lift out the clams that have opened. Continue like this until all the clams have opened. I do this so I don’t overcook the clams. Discard any shells that didn’t open.
  6. Set aside about 15 shells with, the meat attached. They’ll be used to garnish each plate. Remove the rest of the meat from the shells and place back in the sauté pan with the broth.
  7. Drain the pasta when it’s finished cooking and place in the pan with the clams and the broth. Add the butter and cook about a minute until the sauce has reduced a bit and everything is hot. Stir in parsley.
  8. Place pasta in plates, with any broth and garnish with the clam shells you set aside.

Cefalù

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