Since I’ve been traveling to Italy my whole life, I’ve probably been there a dozen of times, I grew up tasting proper Italian cuisine from I was a little girl. And when I started traveling to Italy as an adult, I noticed that it doesn’t always take a fine Italian chef to make the best meals (not an insult to Italian chefs). If you have the best of products at your disposal, you probably will be able to make some of Italy’s finest. Or at least, that is my experience.
Linguine Vongole is the favorite. The salty taste of the sea combined with al dente pasta. I thought this was something I had to go to a restaurant to properly enjoy, but it turns out that if you find a local fish market selling daily fresh seafood (or have the ability to go fishing yourself) – you’re ready to go. Not many recipes are so easy to make, but leave you with the feeling of a luxury meal.
I’ve had some practice by now, trying out several recipes of linguine vongole. Here is the best one, combining tricks from different Italian chefs.
Be careful when making the sauce and ensure that you do not stir the clams too vigorously or you run the risk of breaking bits of the shell into the sauce.
Start by washing the clams under cold running water, discarding any broken ones and any that do not close when tapped firmly.
Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan with 1½ tablespoons of fine salt.
Put a large saucepan over a high heat, and bring olive oil, shallot and half of the garlic into sauté. Carefully add the clams and pour over the white wine. Cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes until they have opened). Discard any that remain closed. Tip into a colander placed over a large bowl and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquor.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. To get the al dente perfect bite, cook the pasta for 1 minute less than instructed on the packet and always keep the pan uncovered.
Use the same saucepan in which you cooked the clams and gently fry the rest of the garlic for 1 minute until it begins to sizzle. Add chilli and tomatoes. Pour in the reserved liquor from the clams and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the shells, parsley leaves and the cooked pasta and stir together over low heat for 30 seconds allowing the sauce to thicken and coat the pasta evenly. Serve immediately.