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Milk Street Recipe

Spaghetti with Clams (Spaghetti con Vongole)

35 minutes

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Spaghetti with Clams (Spaghetti con Vongole)

At Perduto, a canal-side restaurant in Venice, Italy, chef Gianpiero Turdo taught us how to make a regional pasta classic: bigoli con vongole (bigoli with clams). The al dente pasta, garlic, wine, parsley and briny clams were a seamless blend of complementary flavors and the deliciousness of the dish belied the ease with which it came together. Bigoli is a long, thick, round extruded noodle, sometimes made with whole-wheat flour, sometimes with eggs. At Perduto, the bigoli is house made. In the U.S., easier-to-find spaghetti or bucatini are good substitutes. We prefer littleneck clams for this recipe, but manila clams also work. Whichever variety you use, scrub the clams well to remove as much grit as possible. When boiling the pasta, be sure to drain it when it is not quite al dente. The noodles will finish cooking in the reduced clam juices, a technique that infuses the spaghetti with the sweet briny notes of the clams.




Don’t use more than 2 quarts of water to cook the pasta and don’t forget to reserve about 2 cups of water before draining the spaghetti. The idea is for the pasta water to be extra-starchy so that when some is added at the end of cooking, it gives the sauce body and clingability.

35 minutes

Emily M.

I don't understand why you throw away the garlic. I saw you did that in at least one other recipe. Does leaving the garlic in the dish make it too garlicky? (for me that is NOT at thing!)

Lynn C.

Hi Emily -

When we were taught this dish (and others) in Italy, we learned that Italian cooks often use whole, smashed garlic cloves to season the cooking oil to provide a subtle garlic flavor. This allows other, more delicate, ingredients in the dish to be the star since garlic has a tendency to overpower a dish.

The Milk Street Team

Dennis H.

I am often leary when I see fresh live littleneck clams for sale in the supermarket. I'm never sure that they are alive. Some of the Asian supermarkets where I live sell bags of frozen "littleneck clams", which I use for this dish. I often will supplement one bag of frozen with one can of "baby clams". Canned baby clams can be found in many supermarkets around the country. The water in the canned clams is very flavorful. This way I get the appearance of the clam shells in the spaghetti, with a good clam flavor as well. I used to use just canned baby clams, which was also delicious.

Pardon the interruption

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