Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pasta alle Vongole

Shhhh: Never was a show-stopper so easy to prepare. Spaghetti with Clams, or Pasta alle Vongole as it's known in Italian, has the hallmarks of a classic dish: fresh shellfish glistening atop a feathery bed of linguini with accents of red tomato and green parsley to draw the eye. The key is live clams (the Vongole of the title); don't even attempt with canned clams. Fresh, live clams taste better, and it's more fun to dig out the meat and suck the juices from the shells. Anthony Bourdain writes about the power—and simplicity—of a winning Pasta alle Vongole in Kitchen Confidential. My preparation is similar, which is to say: quick and easy.

Add a pound of linguini to boiling salted water. Meanwhile, in a deep pan or pot over medium heat, saute a diced shallot and at least 1 tbsp of chopped garlic in a 1/4 cup of olive oil. De-glaze with a half cup of white wine. Add a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and a few rough-cut plum tomatoes. Salt to taste. (Optional: Add a pinch of dried tarragon.) Stir and raise the heat. Add four dozen or more littlenecks—preferably clams you've dug yourself—and cover. Remove the pasta when two-thirds cooked and add to sauce as clams begin to open. (This is the perfect moment to make use of your fancy pasta cooker; if your timing is off you can let the collander of pasta sit out of the water until it's time, then dunk quickly before adding to the clam sauce.) Stir well. When all clams are open, mix in a loose cup of chopped Italian parsley. The linguini should be al dente. Serve immediately with garlic bread and salad. Serves 4 (or 2 at my house). Salute!


Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmm . . . gotta love the pasta alla vongole. I grew up eating it with the canned stuff, but you're right: gotta have the fresh (it's all about scooping out the meat from the shells).

What's amazing about this dish is how much flavor it has--I mean: a little olive oil, a little garlic and pow: you've got the tastebuds reeling.

Nice photo. You've got my mouth watering.

Langdon Cook said...

> Nice photo. You've got my mouth watering.

Thanks, it's been fun learning how to photograph food. I just use a crummy little digital point-and-shoot, but with macro and the right light you can get pretty good images. So far the oyster po' boy and the fried razor clams are my faves.

Khyde said...

I was lucky enough to be included in this feast, this was one of your best - spectacularly fresh and simple and delicious, fortunately we ran out of pasta before i overate too much. Knowing you had gathered each and every one of those clammies by hand just 12 hours before made it even more delectable!