Linguine with clams - midsummer night perfection

Linguine with clams - midsummer night perfection

There’s nothing quite like plunging a fork into the depths of a steaming bowl of linguine and twirling up some sinewy tendrils before lifting them to your mouth. Add in some juicy, salty clams and a hint of chili and you’ve got yourself a classic summertime dinner.

Linguine with clams or linguine alle vongole is a typical pasta dish originating from Naples in Italy. Easy to prepare, it can be whipped up in less than half an hour.

Like with most simple Italian dishes, the key to getting this one right is having the highest-quality ingredients. That means using the freshest clams you can get, and the best, most flavorful olive oil for drizzling on top. The best variety of clam to use for this dish are little-necks, but you can use a bigger variety such as cherry-stone if you prefer to chop the meat up to put in the sauce.

Most of the work in this recipe is centered around the clams. As is always the case with shellfish, you don’t want to take any risks. Before cooking them, go through the clams, checking for any that are already open. If they don’t close up after receiving a sharp tap on the sideboard, throw them away. Likewise, any that don’t open up after cooking should not be eaten.

As for preparing this dish, the sauce is very simple: a heavenly combination of white wine, garlic, olive oil and chili flakes, which combine harmoniously with the fragrant liquid given off by the clams as they steam cook. Toss the pasta through this, sprinkle on some aromatic parsley and make sure everyone has a generous ladleful of clams in their bowl.

Unsurprisingly, this dish goes fabulously well with a cold glass of white wine. I suggest you open the bottle as you start cooking and use the same wine you’ll be drinking to make the sauce - it adds a nice sense of completeness to the meal, particularly if you enjoy a glass while cooking too! 


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