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Recipe: Clams à la vongole

Christine Belton's clams à la vongole

Take 1kg of small clams (ask your retailer to get them if they're not offered for sale).

Put plenty of well-salted water on the boil to cook the spaghetti.

Wash clams very carefully under running water, checking each one and discarding any which remain open after tapping.

Slice a couple of shallots finely (half an onion will do fine as a substitute) and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, then fry gently in olive oil in a very large pan.

When shallots and garlic are soft but not brown add one to two glasses of dry white wine.

When it boils, add the clams, turn the heat on high and cover.  (Never add salt to the clams - they contain a lot of sea salt.)

Shake the pan after a couple of minutes or give a good stir and cook till the clams are open. It will only take a few minutes.

Add a cup of runny cream or crème fraiche and a good grinding of pepper before serving on top of the cooked pasta.

Top with parsley or coriander.

Serve while pasta and clams are piping hot.