September 29, 2011

Spaghetti alla Vongole with Clams and Cherry Tomatoes - a Slight Twist on an Italian Classic

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Mmm... spaghetti alla vongole. This is a classic Italian dish you'll find in just about every Italian cook book, and it's really a wonder that we haven't done a recipe for it yet on this blog. We have a quick and easy version that takes advantage of canned clams, but for the real briny flavor of the sea, there's no substitution for fresh littleneck clams.

This preparation uses the liquor from the fresh clams as the base of the sauce and augments the traditional classic with some fresh cherry tomatoes. They're cooked very quickly so that only a very slight amount of their juice adds to the sauce, maintaining the integrity of the dish.

Making the Dish

Rinse off the clams thoroughly
Start by rinsing off your clams thoroughly. Since they'll be going directly into the sauce you will want to make sure that any sand or dirt that's still on them after you buy them gets washed down the drain instead of eaten by you.

Cleaned clams in saucepan

Add the cleaned clams to a medium saucepan and add a half cup of dry white wine and a few tablespoons of water. Cover and bring to a boil, letting the clams steam in the boiling wine. The flavor of the clams will infuse the wine creating a delicious base of clam sauce.

Cooked clams, removed from the juice

Once all the clams have opened (should only take a few minutes of boiling) remove the clams from the sauce and set aside. Pour the pan sauce through a strainer to remove any sand or fragments of the shells and set the clam juice aside.

Straining the clam and wine juice
Then get your pasta going in lightly salted water. We used a nice whole wheat spaghetti to add a bit of depth of flavor to the overall dish (and also because we had it on hand). Bryan traditionally prefers this dish with linguine, while YiRan likes it with capellini or vermicelli. The point is - any long thin noodle will be fine :)

Cherry tomatoes sliced in half with chopped garlic and fresh parsley
While the pasta is cooking, you can finish up the sauce. Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet and sauté the chopped onions until they are soft and slightly golden. Add in the chopped cherry tomatoes and garlic and toss together.

Cooking the cherry tomatoes and garlic with the onion and olive oil

Once the cherry tomatoes have slightly softened, add in the clam juice and bring everything to a boil. Then add the clams, toss together, and reduce the heat.

Tossing the pasta together with parsley, clams, and tomato sauce
Once the pasta is done, add it to the pan sauce and toss together with chopped fresh parsley. Then serve and enjoy!

The Result
This is a great take on a classic recipe. The flavor of the sea from the clams is infused throughout the dish, with the cherry tomatoes adding sweetness throughout.

We're really interested in making our own take on spaghetti with clams in a red sauce, but have struggled to find a good recipe. If you know or one (or any other good takes on the spaghetti and clams classic) let us know in the comments!

Click through for the full ingredients list!

Spaghetti alla Vongole with Cherry Tomatoes

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A delicious take on an Italian classic

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 2)

1/2 lb spaghetti or other long noodle
10 - 12 fresh littleneck clams
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley


  1. I have never cooked with clams, but this seems like it might be a great recipe to start with. Yumm!

  2. Oh yes, you should definitely try it! Let us know if you have questions! :)

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