Authentic Spaghetti Vongole Made with Fresh Littleneck Clams

Spaghetti Vongole made with fresh Little Neck clams from Cape Cod is a flavorful Italian style seafood pasta dish that is great for any occasion. Light and bursting with the clam sauce flavor, this pasta dish is a favorite in Boston.  For best results, the sauce must be made with live clams.

Native to New  England, littleneck clams are more tender than the larger quahog clams. Though the littleneck clam is often served raw on the half shell along with raw oysters and cooked shrimp, littleneck clams are the required ingredient for making authentic pasta dishes such as Spaghetti Vongole.

Authentic Spaghetti Vongole with Fresh Littleneck clams
Authentic Spaghetti Vongole with Fresh Littleneck Clams

The recipe is not difficult but care must be taken to prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished. 

Servings: 4 -5 servings 

Directions

The first step is to clean the clams.  Fill a deep pot with cold water and carefully place the little neck clams into the pot. Let the clams sit for about 15 minutes to remove any grit.  Scrub the shells under running water and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and bring the pot to a boil again. Stirring occasionally, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until “al dente,” tender and firm.  Drain the pasta well and return to pot.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep pan with a lid. Add the clams, cover and cook for five minutes occasionally shaking the pan. This will allow the clam juice to simmer. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes; sauté for 2 minutes until the garlic begins to brown. Add the wine, lemon juice and half the parsley. Cover and cook, again shaking the pan periodically allowing the sauce to reduce until all the clams are opened.  Discard any clams that have not opened.

Turn the flame up to medium-high heat. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan; add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the chopped parsley and the toasted bread crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  •  ¼  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 2 pounds fresh  littleneck clams from Cape Cod
  •  ¾  cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  •  ¼ cup  fresh parsley,  chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted and fried bread crumbs

You may also wish to try other dishes made with little neck clams such as the famous and popular Boston Lobster Fra Diavolo recipe.

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