Vongole with Pancetta

I was intrigued by PutneyFarms’s combination of clams with bacon, so I decided to give this a try even though I had never heard of this in Italy. Of course I did have to Italify things slightly by using pancetta rather than bacon and parsley rather than thyme. The combination of vongole with pancetta worked well: the tastes complement each other. It is nice to serve with crusty homemade bread to soak op the juices, although those turn out quite salty. This dish has a lot of taste for the small amount of work involved.


For 3-4 servings as an antipasto

1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) vongole or other small clams

100 grams (4 oz) pancetta

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 glass (100 ml) dry white wine

2 Tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

chili pepper flakes

2 Tbsp olive oil


Let the vongole clean themselves by putting them in water as salty as the sea (3% by weight, i.e. 1 liter of water with 30 grams of salt, or 1 quart of water with 1 oz of salt) for an hour or so.

Rinse them very well with fresh water to remove the salt.

Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and slice the pancetta into strips (lardons).

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and pancetta.

Sauté until the onion is translucent and the pancetta is sligthly golden but not crispy.

Add the vongole and the white wine.

Cover and cook over high heat until the shells have opened (just a few minutes).

Add parsley and stir. Do not cook longer than necessary, because this will make the clams tough and lose taste.

Serve with a bit of the juices and crusty bread.

Wine pairing

This is good with any coastal Italian dry white. Since vongole are eaten a lot at the coast of Le Marche, a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi would be appropriate.


13 thoughts on “Vongole with Pancetta

  1. Beautiful little clams. I can only get frozen cooked ones usually. They are actually very nice but it would nicer to use fresh … maybe mussels done that would way would be as good. We get fresh from time to time.


  2. Looks great and thanks for the mention! The saltiness of both the pancetta / bacon and the clams are variables in the dish. (and we do like this dish w/ pancetta)…


  3. One of the benefits of finding good fishmongers is that I now have a steady supply of vongole. In the past, the supply was hardly guaranteed and if I saw them, I bought them, no matter what else had been planned for dinner. Now, however, I enjoy clams much like you’ve prepared and served here, or, served over home-made pasta.You are 100% correct: “This dish has a lot of taste for the small amount of work involved.” Amen to that! 🙂


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