Spaghetti alle Vongole

Summary: My sister, who lives in Florence, Italy, sent me this recipe. It's so simple and so good! Perfect every time!

Yield: serves 2-3


  • 1 bag of clams
  • 2 pods of garlic, peeled and cut in half (not crushed or chopped)
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pod dry peperoncino pepper
  • white wine, if desired
  • 100-125 grams of pasta per person


Soak the clams in a bowl of well-salted cold water for 2-3 hours. This allows the clams to "purify" themselves (spit out the sand and other gunk). Afterwards, clean the clams of any remaining muck, and drain them from the water. Get a pot of well-salted pasta water boiling!

In a large (12" is good) saucepan that has a lid, pour in enough olive oil so that it covers the bottom. Heat the oil over medium-high until it has just become hot, and then add the garlic. Let it cook for a minute or so, and then add the clams and a few grinds of pepper. Crumble in the peperoncino and put the lid on the pan. Stir the clams pretty regularly throughout their cooking, but keep the lid on when you're not.

Cook the spaghetti. Some Italians add a splash or two of white wine to the clams at this point. It's not as traditional to add the wine, but the dish is great both ways so it's up to you.

When all the clams have popped open, turn off the heat, take them off the burner, put the lid on if it's off and let them sit. If not all the clams open, discard those that remain closed. You don't want to overcook them so if most are open, call it a day and chuck the sealed ones.

Before you drain the spaghetti, add a spoonful (small ladle) of pasta water to the clams. Then drain the spaghetti and add it and the chopped parsley to the clams. Turn the heat back on and warm everything just through, tossing well while you do so. Serve!