Blushing spaghetti vongole. (Photo, David Loftus.)
Vongole is a dish much loved by people all around the world. Ultimately, it’s a very simple pasta that celebrates the juice and flavor of clams, and if you cook it right, it’s a very delicious, classy, comforting pasta that hits the spot every time. – Jamie Oliver
ripe red cherry
a dried red
a bunch of fresh Italian
, (1/2 oz)
5 1/2 oz
, or cockles (washed and debearded)
- The key to success with vongole is to have everything prepped before you start cooking, because the whole thing will be ready in just a matter of minutes once you get going. We want perfectly cooked pasta, just-opened shellfish, and spot-on seasoning — it sounds easy, but to achieve this you do need to focus.
- So, to start, peel and finely slice the garlic, quarter the tomatoes, then break apart the dried chile, shake out and remove the seeds, and finely chop or crumble it (it’s your responsibility to check the heat of the chile, because they’re all different). Very finely slice the parsley stalks, then roughly chop the leaves and put them aside for later.
- Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Around 5 minutes before it’s ready, place a large frying pan on a high heat. After 2 minutes, add a generous swig of olive oil, quickly followed by the garlic, tomatoes, chile, parsley stalks, and sun-dried tomato paste. Shake around, then add the clams or cockles (remembering to tap any that are open; if they don’t close, throw them away) and, after 30 seconds, add the wine. Pop the lid on for 1 minute, then remove so you can watch the clams or cockles open and the wine evaporate. If you’ve got your timing right, as most of the shellfish pop open (throw away any that remain closed) you’ll be ready to drain your pasta and throw it on top with the chopped parsley leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Give it all a good toss together, then taste the sauce — it shouldn’t need seasoning because of the clams, but it’s always wise to check. Divide the pasta between two warm bowls, followed by the clams or cockles and all those wonderful juices, and tuck straight in.
Vongole is a dish much loved by people all around the world. Ultimately, it’s a very simple pasta that celebrates the juice and flavor of clams, and if you cook it right, it’s a very delicious, classy, comforting pasta that hits the spot every time. I’ve gone for a subtle variation on the classic here, by adding fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste, then using rosé instead of white wine, to give you a beautiful blushing dish, but of course you can revert to the original if you prefer — they’re both equally brilliant.
– Jamie Oliver
Recipes from Jamie’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver, published by Penguin Books and in Canada by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.