Traditionally made using le vongole veraci (small carpet shell, otherwise known as little-neck or manila clams), this simple Neapolitan dish is a popular mainstay throughout Italy and beyond.
Made using dried spaghetti across central Italy, the wider shaped linguine, originating in Genoa, is used for the Ligurian version. This recipe uses a fresh egg pasta, hand-cut into linguine, so as to create a wider surface for the briny, garlicky sauce. Prepared with fresh chilli and chopped parsley, it only needs a drizzle of good quality Ligurian olive oil to set it off. Try one made from Taggiasca olives if you can – considered one of the best in the world, it imparts a light, fruity flavour with hints of almonds. Paired with a crisp white wine such as a Vermentino, linguine alle vongole is the perfect way to soak up that last bit of warm weather.
Linguine alle Vongole
480-500 g fresh egg pasta, 350 g if using dried pasta
1 kg fresh carpet shells or little-neck clams, scrubbed
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbl fresh chilli, chopped
100 ml white wine
2 handfuls of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
- Rinse and scrub the clams in running cold water. Never leave submerged in water.
- Boil water in a large pot and salt generously. Cook the pasta for 2-3 min if using fresh, and 10-12 min if using dried.
- Meanwhile, heat up a good glug of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Soften the garlic and chilli with a pinch or two of the chopped parsley (2 min). Add in the clams, the white wine, and a spoonful of the pasta cooking liquid. Bring the heat up and cover. Let the clams cook for a few minutes until most of them have opened, shaking vigorously once or twice (2-4 min).
- Discard any clams that have not opened, remove a few from their shells for variety and add the drained pasta and the rest of the parsley to the sauce. Cook together for another minute, tossing to coat. Adjust the seasonings if necessary and serve.