Monday, December 31, 2012

Spaghetti with Clams - a rollercoaster ride!

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Happy New Year, tastebuds!
I’ve come across Spaghetti alle Vongole - spaghetti with clams - many times in many novels as the one dish the busy heroine or hunky hero can manage to throw together however undomesticated they are. 

Light but luxurious, comforting but with a chilli kick, I first tasted this dish in Venice where my taste buds thought they had died and gone to pasta heaven. It is a bowlful of loveliness that is greater than the sum of its parts and takes longer to describe than it does to make. Right now, it answers my craving for lighter food after the excesses of Christmas.

You’ll need a large frying pan with a lid, and with this dish, timing is everything so make sure to have everything prepared in advance as once the pan goes on the heat it is a bit of a rollercoaster ride to the plate.


To send two sets of taste buds to heaven you will need…

150g dried spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery stick
1 tablespoon finely chopped celery leaf (if available)
2 fat cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, very finely chopped
2 fresh (ripe) tomatoes (plum tomatoes if possible), diced
500g fresh clams, rinsed in several changes of cold water to remove any grit
150mls dry white wine
a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley


Fast food!


1.                 First start to cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack. Working backwards, you want to start the sauce 5 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked.
2.                 In the frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped celery stick (and celery leaf if using), along with the garlic and chilli. Cook for about a minute or until the garlic just begins to take on a golden tinge. Now add the tomatoes, cooking for a further minute.
3.                 Turn up the heat and add the clams and white wine, covering the pan with the lid. Shake the pan back and forth occasionally to make sure the clams are cooking evenly in the fragrant liquid and steam. They will take about 3 minutes to cook - once they are cooked they will spring open. Turn off the heat and discard any clams that haven’t opened.
4.                 Meanwhile, the spaghetti should be ready. (Test it to make sure it is not too chewy - if it is, give it another minute and test again). Drain and add to the frying pan along with the chopped parsley. Using two forks, toss the spaghetti in the clam sauce. Taste and add salt and black pepper only if necessary. Allow the spaghetti to absorb some of the delicious juices for a minute or so before serving in warm pasta bowls.
5.              Sigh contentedly.

Right, that’s it from me for 2012. Wishing you and yours the happiest New Year, full of wonderful things. See you in 2013!

Hester x



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19 comments:

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

Happy New Year, Hester and I hope 2013 is terrific for both you and himself.

I often make seafood pasta for the two of us and you're right - everything must be in place ahead of time and before the pasta is fully cooked. I usually make my own pasta so that tightens the clock even more because it only takes a minute or so to cook.

Lollygag around and you eat spaghetti and clam flavoured rubber. :)

Lizzy Do said...

Oh, YUM!!! This is my idea of heaven on a plate, too! If I could only get the ol' hubby to eat clams...or maybe just go out of town for a couple days???? LOL. Hope your 2013 is off to an excellent start!

Purabi Naha said...

Seafood is always welcome (actually, almost compulsory) at our home. This sphagetti dish with clams is bursting with flavours. Can't wait to try this out.

Wishing you and your family a very happy new year! Looking forward to your forthcoming yummy recipes!!

Rosemary said...

This has to be one of my favorite dishes. Seafood. Pasta. Terrif. I have one New Year resolution about pasta -- if I'm going to indulge in the carbs, I'm going to make the pasta. (I'm so excited I got a pasta maker for Christmas; anxious to try out!)

Mother Rimmy said...

I won't touch clams, but my husband adores them. This is a keeper. His birthday is Sunday. Have a terrific 2013 Hester!

Cathleen said...

What a delicious recipe to kick off the new year! This looks SO good!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

One of my favorite dishes to make. Have a wonderful new year.

Brownieville Girl said...

I love this dish - your version looks fantastic, although I have to admit I always manage to leave some grit in the clams - not so nice!!

Venice has to be my favourite place on earth (after home of course)

Hope you have a wonderful 2013.

Cucina49 said...

I absolutely love pasta with clams--will try your version next time. Happy new year, Hester!

wok with ray said...

Love pasta and with these clams made it very special. The photo is making me hungry and it's only 7 am. Wishing you a Happy New Year to you Hester! :)

Simply Life said...

oh wow- what a great dish! so elegant!

Lola Lobato said...

Happy New Year!!!
Your spaghetti with clams looks really yummy.
absolutely fabulous!
All the best.

Tiffany said...

Oh, this looks absolutely STUNNING! I want to make it for my sister!!! HAPPY New Year!

Magnolia Verandah said...

Ooh lovely! This is just what the New Year needs to make it very happy indeed!

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

These little clams you have look so sweet and delicious! I love this dish. Happy New Year!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Hester, I love the way you described this delicous recipe and the wonderful pictures! I do hope that you had the most wonderful start to the New Year - looking forward to all your upcoming delightful posts!

Linda A. Thompson-Ditch said...

Look delicious! I can see making this not only with clams, but also with shrimp, calamari, mussels...

Jill Colonna said...

Heaven indeed, Hester! Especially at this time of year when it's doom and gloom in Europe and this reminds us of sitting next to a harbour outside in summer with a glass in hand. Dreaming... sighing.
Wishing you a very Happy 2013, Hester, and many more delicious, magical dishes in store.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Now I'm seriously craving for it! In Japan, most popular pasta is Spaghetti alle Vongole and Spaghetti bolognaise. It's so easy to make and the juice coming from clams is packed with umami. I gotta go get clams! This time I'll add tomatoes like you did. Usually mine is white sauce. Hungry!!!