I learned to love clams when I was very young, so young that no one would have ever thought I might like them. It was one and my parents and I were vacationing on the beautiful island off the coast of Tuscany called Isola del Giglio. When my mom ordered spaghetti with clams she had no idea they were going to find out the biggest (littlest) clam fan ever. As soon as the spaghetti with clams was in front of my mom I started picking clams out of her plate, reaching over from my high chair and using my tiny, fat fingers to remove the clams from their shells. I don’t know if it was the salty brininess of the clams or the fact that they were “grown-up” food -what I know is that my mom that night ate spaghetti with olive oil, parsley, and no clams.
Since then I’ve always been a big fan of clams, even during my pickiest years (from age 3 to age 10 I barely ate anything and drove everyone crazy). Nowadays I absolutely love clams in all their forms. Here’s how to make them with spaghetti – my absolute favorite way of enjoying them.
SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS
1 kilo of clams, in their shells
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Parsley (about 4 sprigs), minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
180 grams spaghetti
To get rid of the sand in the clams soak them for at least 30 minutes in abundant water and salt. Rinse them under running cold water and set aside.
In a very large skillet (large enough to accommodate all the clams, that is) heat the olive oil and add clams. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Check on clams. The idea here is that they will slowly open as they cook. Keep cooking them. After five minutes throw out the few that haven’t opened yet.
Pour the cooking liquid through a fine sieve and reserve it.
Cook spaghetti “al dente”.
Place clams (still in their shells) back in the skillet with minced garlic, minced parsley, crushed red pepper, white wine and reserved cooking juices. Cook no longer than 7 minutes. Add cooked spaghetti and toss together. Serve immediately.
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