Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Someone asked me where I get the ideas or the inspiration when I cook or prepare my food. Well, it could be from something I saw on TV; a request from my family or friends; something I tasted in the past that I want to recreate or from a sudden craving brought about by a book that I've read or still reading. "LATER, WE ARE SEATED at the breakfast bar, dressed in bathrobes, having consumed Mrs. Jones's rather excellent pasta alle vongole" it says on page 483 of E L James's Fifty Shades of Grey so credit this dish to Mrs. Jones who prepared the pasta for Christian and Ana. I want my share too! Unfortunately, I don't have Mrs. Jones to make it for me so I have to do it myself.

Amazing how such simple reference to a dish could make me crave instantaneously although I didn't get to cook it right away till today as I feel better after being sick for two days. Whenever I'm recovering from an illness, the kitchen is the place where I start pacing myself when and where I can. And if I can cook something, then I'm good to go back to work. This pasta that I made should prove it so.

Spaghetti alle Vongole is Italian for Spaghetti and Clams. The dish is basically made with clams, olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and butter although one can be creative and add cream or tomatoes. I made it with shrimp and spinach before and it was delicious as well. This time I chose to be a purist and made it simple with clams, clam juice, lots of garlic and red pepper flakes for a little kick.

Spaghetti Alle Vongole

kosher salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
2 lb littlenecks, clams scrubbed
chopped fresh parsley
unsalted butter

Cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve half a cup of pasta water- drain and set aside
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, swirling pan often, until just golden. Add red pepper flakes and continue cooking 15 more seconds. Add white wine, then clams; increase heat to high. Cover skillet and cook until clams open and release their juices, 3-6 minutes, depending on size of clams. As clams open, use tongs to transfer them to another bowl.
Add reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a boil.
Add pasta to pan and toss until pasta has soaked up some of the juice from the pan. Add clams and toss to combine. Add chopped parsley and transfer to a serving plate. Add a tablespoon of butter and serve.

It the best lunch ever - I just realized how much I missed clams- I ate twenty of them! Now I'm ready to go back to work!


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