Spaghetti alle Vongole

One of my favorite dishes is spaghetti alle vongole, and I realised I had never done a post on it yet. This pasta with clams has great depth of flavor because of the juices that the clams will release when you cook them. Apart from the time needed to allow the clams to purge themselves, it only takes as long as it takes to cook the spaghetti.

Although this dish originally hails from Napels, it is prepared all along the long Italian coast. Most common varieties are with or without white wine and with or without tomatoes (versione rossa o bianca (red or white version)). I like it white, with a bit of white wine to make it easier to open up the clams without burning the garlic.

For the original dish you will need vongole veraci, but you can obtain good results with other types of small clams. To lessen the amount of carbs, I use less pasta than is common in Italy. You have to be careful with this, as the dish may become too salty. Feel free to use less clams than I did; the usual ratio is 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of clams for 400 grams (.9 lbs) of spaghetti for 4 servings. In that case you may need to add a bit of salt, but always taste first.


For 2 servings (or 4 servings if you increase the amount of spaghetti, see above)

1 kg (2.2 lbs) vongole or other small clams

200 grams (7 oz) spaghetti

1 clove garlic, minced

chili flakes, to taste

60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine

2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley


Allow the clams to purge themselves in salt water as salty as the sea (30 grams/4 tsp of salt in a litre/quart of cold water) for an hour or so. Then rinse them in cold water to remove the salt.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the spaghetti without salt (as the clam juices will provide plenty of salt). Set the timer for 2 minutes less than indicated on the spaghetti package for al dente.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic.

As soon as the garlic starts to color, add the white wine…

…and the clams.

Cover the pan and cook over high heat…

…until the clams have opened up. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, mince the parsley…

…and season the clams with chili flakes.

When the timer beeps, drain the spaghetti and add to the clams.

Add the parsley as well and turn on the heat to high.

Toss the spaghetti with the clams over high heat for 2 minutes, or until the spaghetti has absorbed most of the juices.

Serve at once, with a bit of additional extra virgin olive oil if you like.

Wine pairing

This is great with most unoaked Italian whites, such as Gavi di Gavi or Greco di Tufo or Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (not riserva, which is oaked).


I don’t do a lot of Dutch cuisine, but boerenkool met worst (mashed kale and potatoes with smoked pork sausage) is nice when the ribs are removed from the kale, the pork sausage is artisanal and it is served with good homemade gravy.


22 thoughts on “Spaghetti alle Vongole

  1. One of my favourites also and tho’ I have a number of Asian-styled recipes the way you make them is my ‘normal’ prep also. Just been to our Fish Market/other Oz fish sites researching [same way you do it 🙂 !] and it does seem to be a fact that we have fewer clams, cockles and pipis than you in Europe or those living in the US. At the same time ours seem to be larger: oft 6-7 cms across . . . and we do have razor clams . . . [you?]


  2. Fantastic preparation, Stefan. This is one dish that I make sure to enjoy as soon as possible when I visit Italy. This year, my Zia prepared it for me on the night of my arrival in San Marino. It’s such a classic and you’ve done a great job creating it here.

    Liked by 1 person

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