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Spaghetti alle Vongole


Spaghetti alle VongoleThis is one of the recipes that was provided by Shirley Cline from San Fransisco. Shirley had this to say:

"You can use canned shellfish packed in their juice to make spaghetti alle vongole but live clams are far better. If you opt for fresh clams, they should be tightly closed and shouldn’t smell. Scrub them well and let them sit in salted water for several hours, so they can purge themselves of sand. Boil them in just a little bit of water (or better yet, steam them), and when they open, drain them and stir them, shells and all, into the sauce. Half the fun of eating spaghetti alle vongole is fishing out the shells and sucking the sauce off them."


8 oz. jar of shelled clams, or two pounds small fresh live clams (I suggest the fresh)
2 small cloves garlic, minced
A small bunch of parsley, minced
1/2 of a dried red pepper, crumbled or red pepper flakes (to your own taste)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 - 4 peeled and seeded or canned plum tomatoes, diced
Salt to taste
1 lb. of spaghetti

  • If you are using live clams, begin steaming them – they are done when they’ve opened, and it won’t take long. Also, have the pasta water ready.

  • Using a large pot, gently saute the garlic and the chili pepper in the oil, adding the parsley when the mixture starts to brown. Be careful not to let it burn. Meanwhile, start cooking the spaghetti.

  • Add the cooked clams and some of their juice, or the juice of the canned clams, to the garlic mixture. If you are using tomato, add it too. Simmer the sauce until the pasta is done. If you are using canned clams, stir them into the sauce at this point; cooked longer, they become tough. Drain the pasta, stir it into the sauce, and serve without cheese.

  • Here is an easier way: if you are using fresh clams, scrub them, purge them, and cook them till they open in boiling water. Meanwhile, mince and saute a clove of garlic, a red pepper, and a bunch of parsley. Add a couple spoonfuls of broth from the fresh shellfish or the juice of the canned shellfish to the garlic mixture, and season it with salt to taste. Stir the shellfish into the sauce, cook for a minute longer, and stir the sauce into the spaghetti. Serve without cheese.

  • Either method will serve four, and if you use canned clams this is perfect for camping where water is not a problem.


If any of the clams are still shut tight when you’ve finished cooking them, throw them out! DO NOT EAT THEM! They were already dead when you began to cook them and could make you quite sick.

Serves 4

Shirley Cline

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