Pasta Vongole (Shellfish Pasta)

Serves 2 People

Spaghetti Vongole

Normally this dish is made with Venus Clams, but it can also be made with Mussels, Cockles, etc. It can be made with either fresh shellfish (which is better), or with tinned shellfish (click the link in this paragraph to display the recipe for whichever kind of shellfish you plan to use). The trick with this dish is that the flavour is in the liquid from cooking the shellfish rather than in their flesh.

  1. If needed, scrub the shellfish clean, discarding any that are open (dead).
  2. Place in a small saucepan (small diameter), with a very small amount of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1 tenth of an inch deep), and cover with a close-fitting lid.
  3. Gently steam the shellfish until they are cooked (5 minutes or less), then turn off the heat. When cooled, discard any that did not open (dead).
  4. Remove the shellfish from the shells and save them until later. Do this while holding them over the saucepan, so that you catch any liquid that drips out. Discard the shells after shaking off all of the liquid from each one into the saucepan.
  5. You may now need to sieve the liquid through a cloth, to remove sand, bits of seaweed, etc.
  6. Gently simmer the liquid (without a lid) to reduce & thicken it, stirring occasionally. Do this until it is about the consistency of gravy.
  1. Start heating water for the pasta.
  2. Slice 1 large onion. Peel & chop 5 cloves of garlic. Place in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Add about 1 level teaspoon of marjoram or oregano to the frying pan.
  4. Thinly slice about 3 medium sized mushrooms, and chop 1 large fresh tomato (you can use tinned if you must).
  5. When the water starts to boil, add the pasta. Note the time. When it comes back to the boil, reduce the heat a little.
  6. Fry the contents of the frying pan on a medium heat.
  7. When the onions are lightly cooked (when they go clear), add the mushrooms & tomato. Cook for about 2 more minutes.
  8. Add the shellfish, the liquid from cooking them (or from the tin) which you already reduced, and about 1 quarter of a glass of white wine or dry vermouth (e.g. martini).
  9. Increase the heat a little, and stir continuously, until the sauce thickens again (a couple of minutes). Then remove from the heat.
  10. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, stir in a knob of butter, and serve with the sauce poured over the pasta.