This Italian dish is the classic vongole recipe (‘vongole’ is Italian for ‘clams’). The sauce is prepared in the time it takes for the pasta to cook – true fast food!
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
¾ cup dry white wine
1kg small vongole, purged (see notes)
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (tender but with bite).
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and chilli and stir over moderate heat until garlic softens. Increase heat, add wine and vongole, stir and cover for a couple of minutes until shells start to open. Using a slotted spoon, remove open shells, placing them on a plate. Cover for another minute or 2 to give the others a chance to open. Remove pan from heat, return open shells to pan, cover and set aside.
As soon as pasta is cooked, drain and tip into the pan with the vongole. Add parsley and salt (remembering that the juice from the shells is already salty), and toss through spaghetti. Serve immediately.
Vongole are usually sold ‘purged’ to remove sand and grit, however it’s still a good idea to place them in a large bowl of cool salted water and sea salt (30g salt per litre water) for several hours or overnight, at room temperature, to get rid of any remaining sand (if you refrigerate them they’ll close up and won’t ‘spit out’ the sand).
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