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Here’s a classic traditional recipe, by Italian Chef Chicca Maione. She can even teach you the art of making spaghetti with clam sauce in person through her cooking classes (If you are looking for a great vacation).
This quick and easy to make recipe delivers an incredible flavor! This version doesn’t include tomatoes, so it is ‘in bianco’, but if you want to add color, throw in some diced tomatoes. If you use good quality pasta (check for pasta di Gragnano) the result is terrific! Clams may be substituted for other types of mussels.
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4 garlic cloves; 3 peeled and finely chopped and 1 peeled and crushed
2 handfuls of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
120 ml / 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time: 25 minutes.
Sauté the Ingredients
Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add some extra virgin olive oil, the crushed garlic, and the chili pepper. Sauté gently for about 3 minutes (don’t brown the garlic), add clams, and cover with a lid.
Steam the Clams
Steam the clams until open and discard any clams that have not opened. Usually, it takes 8-10 minutes. Take clams from the shell (keep just a few with shells for decoration) and strain the liquid they have released to leave any sand behind.
Cook the Spaghetti
Meanwhile, put water (about 4 quarts) to boil in a large pot. When it comes to a boil add coarse sea salt and then cook the spaghetti. Drain pasta when it is nearly done (taking pasta out before it is completely cooked, 2 minutes before) and save some of the cooking water.
Add another Pan
While pasta is cooking, in another sauté pan large enough to hold all the pasta, pour abundant extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom. Sauté the chopped garlic without burning it and turn off the gas. Add the clams and their liquid. Don’t add salt to the sauce because clams are already salty.
Add the Spaghetti
Add the spaghetti to the pan with the clams and simmer for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add more cooking water if needed. Stir until pasta is tender and the sauce is creamy.
Garnish with parsley and the unshucked clams. Serve immediately.
Important! Soak the Clams
Before cooking the clams it is a good idea to soak them in salty cold water for at least 30 minutes. This is important to purge the clams of their sand. Even only a few grains will ruin your dish.
Important! Get good Pasta
For this dish the quality of pasta is crucial. Try to find the best quality of spaghetti or linguine and avoid any potentially mushy pasta!
Important! Add Olive Oil
Be generous with extra virgin olive oil. It is the base of this sauce and pasta!
Feeling adventurous? Take a trip over to Italy and take the class, led by Chicca, on how to make spaghetti with clam sauce (as well as many other amazing dishes)!
Feeling really adventurous? Enjoy a week of classes and an authentic experience of life in Tuscany, Italy, through her all-inclusive Cooking Vacation.
About the Author
Chicca is a Tuscan-based architect and passionate chef of home-cooked food. After many years of cooking for family and friends, she found her calling: teaching people how to cook authentic homemade food while sharing recipes and stories about her incredible culture. She has spread the traditional-Italian and typical-Tuscan cuisine in Italy and abroad for the past 19 years. Full Bio