Spaghetti alle vongole is the Italian for spaghetti with clams. I tried it for the first time on holidays in Cannes in France as a nine-year-old, where they served it in take-out containers and you ate it on the go. I loved the sweetness that the clams had. Use sustainable clams for this one if you can – you can ask your fishmonger for these.
1kg small clams, scrubbed
1 small bunch of fresh flat-
4 cloves of garlic
10 cherry tomatoes
250ml white wine
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 knobs of butter
juice of ½ lemon
1 Put a pan of water on to boil that is big enough to hold the spaghetti. While that is coming to the boil, sort through your cleaned clams and if there are any that aren’t tightly closed, give them a sharp tap. If they don’t close, throw them away.
2 Put a large pan with a lid on a high heat and let it heat up. In the meantime, finely slice the parsley stalks, then put them to one side and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and chop the garlic, quarter the tomatoes and get your wine ready.
3 Add the pasta to the boiling water with a good pinch of salt and cook according to packet instructions until al dente.
4 About 5 minutes before your pasta is due to be ready, get ready to start on the sauce – you’ll have to be quick about this, so no messing around! Put enough extra virgin olive oil into the hot pan to cover the bottom and add the garlic, parsley stalks and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
5 Add in the chilli and the tomatoes. Stir everything around constantly and just as the garlic starts to colour, tip in the clams and pour in the wine. It will splutter and steam, so give everything a good shake and put the lid on. After about 3–4 minutes the clams will start to open – keep shuffling the pan around until all of them have opened. Take the pan off the heat. Get rid of any clams that haven’t opened. Stir in the butter and lemon juice.
6 By now your pasta should be just about perfect. Drain and add it to the pan of clams along with the parsley leaves and an extra drizzle of the olive oil. Stir or toss for a further 1–2 minutes to let the beautiful juices from the clams absorb into the pasta, then serve right away.