Citizens, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind whatsoever that linguini con vongole (Italian for linguini with clams) is a dish that is very popular throughout Italy, especially its central regions including Rome and further south in Campania (where it is part of traditional Neapolitan cuisine).
Italians prepare this dish two ways: in bianco, i.e., with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; and in rosso, like the former but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south. My version combines elements of both styles, because that’s just how TFD rolls.
Traditionally, the bivalves are cooked quickly in hot olive oil to which plenty of garlic has been added. The live clams open during cooking, releasing a liquid that serves as the primary flavoring agent. The clams are then added to the firm pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or vermicelli), along with salt, black pepper (or red pepper), and a handful of finely-chopped parsley.
In the Liguria region of Italy, east of Genoa, “Spaghetti alle vongole (veraci)” means spaghetti with tiny baby clams in the shell, no more than the size of a thumbnail, with a white wine/garlic sauce. Linguine also may be used for the pasta in preference to spaghetti. As you can see, my version is basically Ligurian with the use of Manila clams.
You may see Italian-American recipes sometimes use cream in this dish, but this is NEVER done in Italy. In America, cheese is sometimes added to this dish, although Italians believe it overpowers the simple flavors of the clams and of good quality olive oil. I agree with the Italians, but do as you see fit, Citizen! 🙂
My recipe is closely based on the amazing version by Marcella Hazan, but with a few of my individual touches (noted in the recipe). Her technique of finishing the cooking of the pasta in the sauce is genius – it drinks up the clam flavor and makes the dish truly celestial! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
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