Spaghetti alle vongole

September 20, 2015
italian vongole clams spaghetti

This is a real must when tasting seafood in Italy.

The taste of Vongole (clams) is delicate, unique and charming. There are several kinds of vongole, my favourite is Vongole “veraci”. They are two or three times bigger than the “lupino” which are the ones that you usually find at the beach in the sand.

Vongole veraci are large and coloured. They are farmed in Italy, usually in the northeast region around Venice.

In Florence I buy them at the Mercato Centrale, and I make sure that they are fresh and high quality.

Vongole veraci

Vongole veraci.

Ingredients for two people:

  • 1Kg of Vongole veraci
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil extravergine from Florence or Siena
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • black pepper
  • half glass of white wine

The most important thing is to handle the vongole with care. Don’t drop them in the sink, but gently place them there, one by one, checking if they are ok, no sand, not broken, not empty (you can tell if they’re too light or “sound” empty).

Wash them very gently. Change the water in the sink three or four times. Then put the vongole in a ceramic bowl, full of water, add a dash of salt and then let them rest there covered (to be dark) for a couple of hours.

When it’s time to start cooking, wash them, and put them in a pot, covered with high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Vongole open in the pot

Vongole will open in the pot, and release their water

Once the pot has cooled down a bit, pick the vongole one by one and put them in a dish. Trash the ones that didn’t open.

Keep some with their shell, and some without.

Save the water in the pan, making sure to remove any remaining sand.

Use the same pan (but remove sand if it’s there!) to boil water and cook the spaghetti.

spaghetti boiling with vongole water

If you add some of the water released by the vongole, the spaghetti will taste better. Do not add salt to the spaghetti

Add half of the water you saved before, and do not add salt.
In a pan, put one spoon of olive oil extravergine and warm it up. Add in the 2 garlic cloves, and keep them there until they become golden. Cut one dried red chili pepper, and then add it to the pan.

Raise the heat, and add the vongole. Deglaze with the white wine.

Vongole cooked in the pan with white wine

Poor and reduce some white wine in the pan with the vongole.

Remove the spaghetti two or three minutes before the usual time it would be ready (al dente) and finish cooking it in the pan with the vongole.

Save and use some of the water from the spaghetti, to make sure that the spaghetti in the pan does not dry out.

Serve with some black pepper, and parsley if you would like.

spaghetti alle vongole italian

Save some water from the pot where you boiled the pasta, and mix it with the spaghetti and the vongole in the pan to make sure the spaghetti won’t be dry


We recommend

The taste of the vongole is really delicate and particular. I love it. You can really taste the sea in a gentle and charming way.

A good Vermentino di Sardegna is a safe bet to pair with this dish.

I would recommend: Costamolino, “Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna”. The price is about 10€.

It’s dry, fruity and with a very good acidity. You will enjoy it with the vongole.

Recently we had spaghetti alle vongole with a Riesling wine from Alsace, and we really liked it.

A totally different experience, but definitely positive.

The wine was an Schaffer Woerly, Alsace grand Cru, Riesling Frankstein 2014.

As soon as you drink this wine, it’s sweet. Right after though, a great acidity with many floral notes comes out and balances the sweet feeling in a very particular way.

The scents and notes of this wine are a very good experience, and we loved our pair with spaghetti alle vongole.

Alsace grand cru 2014

Alsace grand cru 2014 – Riesling Frankstein