The first time I cooked pasta with clams, I used white wine. I didn’t know the proper name for the dish but some readers supplied that information generously. Spaghetti alla Vongole. This pasta with clams dish was cooked with red wine. I don’t know if it still falls within the Alla Vongole definition but I have to say it was good. It was the second pasta dish that I cooked a couple of days ago when I made the pasta with prawns in creamy garlic sauce for my husband and kids.
This dish was inspired by Mario Batali’s Steamed Cockles in a Habañero Chive Broth (Vongole al Vapore con Peperoncino di Jamaica e Hierba Cippollina) in the Celebrity Italian Table Cookbook. Batali’s is a soup dish; I decided to reduce the liquid until thick then I poured the clams with the sauce over cooked pasta.
- 500 grams fresh clams soaked and washed
- 200 grams uncooked pasta
- 1/2 head garlic peeled and finely minced
- 1 onion peeled and chopped
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 14-ounce can 14 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
- 1 large bunch fresh basil tough stalks discarded (or about a tablespoonful of dried basil)
- 2 cups red wine I used semi-sweet
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Soak the clams in water for several hours, changing the water often. Wash the clams under running water until no trace of sand remains. Discard the clams that remain unopened.
Heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion; cook until they start to soften. Pour in the stewed tomatoes, breaking up large chunks. Pour in the red wine. Add the basil leaves. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer until the sauce has been reduced to half and has slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the clams. Simmer for about five minutes. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Place the cooked pasta in individual bowls or plates. Ladle the clams and sauce over the pasta. Garnish with grated parmesan if you prefer.