Vongole veraci are Italian clams and they are just so flavorful. The best thing is, they come with their own sauce (i.e. the juices they release when they are cooked) and so it takes very little effort to turn some vongole into a very tasty dish with great depth of flavor. The clam juices blend very well with a simple sauce of tomatoes, garlic, chile flakes, parsley, and olive oil. I made this for lunch the other day and it can’t be beat in terms of flavor for effort. That is, huge flavor, very little effort, and only six ingredients. From start to finish it took me less than 10 minutes to create this dish, including taking the photographs for this blog post! It can also be made with other types of small clams. The only thing you may need to do beforehand is to put the clams in salted water (as salty as the sea, 3% by weight) to allow them to purge themselves of sand.
Given how flavorful this sauce is, it is interesting that in Italy spaghetti alle vongole is sometimes served with cherry tomatoes, but I have never seen it with a tomato sauce. So you could serve this sauce over pasta, but for a true Italian experience you should serve it with crusty Italian bread and use the bread to mop up the delicious sauce!
about 500 grams/1 pound vongole
200 grams/half a can of peeled tomatoes, pureed in the food processor
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
peperoncino (dried red chile pepper) flakes, to taste
Please note that no salt needs to be added, as the vongole are very salty already by themselves.
A full bodied dry Italian white with a nice minerality such as a greco di tufo is a great pairing for this.
This pasta with radishes is a good example of using everything, as the greens of the radishes are also used. When radishes are cooked, their flavor is tamed somewhat and works quite well with pasta.