This tasty dish which I enjoyed recently at Corte Sconta in Venice is cheap to make and makes a very satisfying meal served with a mixed green leaf salad and crusty bread. Baby clams or pippies are equally good. Vongole are very popular in Venice and you can find plenty for sale at the Rialto Markets, near the Rialto Bridge which crosses the Grand Canal.
- vongole (baby clams) - 800g - 1kg, cleaned
- spaghetti - 500g
- extra virgin olive oil - 2 - 3 tablespoons
- garlic - 3 cloves, finely chopped
- red chilli - 1 medium, deseeded and finely chopped
- dry white wine - 1/3 cup
- flat leaf Italian parsley - 1/2 bunch, leaves only, chopped
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- lemon - 1, juice and zest
Wash the clams under running water then put in a bowl covered with water and leave in the refrigerator overnight, changing the water as often as you can.
An hour before cooking, add a tablespoon of salt to the water to help them expel any sand. Drain and wash again.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and chilli and toss well. When softened, add the clams and wine, cover with a lid and toss over high heat until they open. Give the pan a few good shakes to distribute the heat.
Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until "al dente", about 7 - 8 minutes. Drain. Turn the spaghetti into a large serving bowl, add the clams and toss well, adding plenty of freshly chopped parsley and the lemon juice and zest. Season to taste.