Here’s one of our favourite recipes, probably because it’s quick, easy and delicious!
Spaghetti alle vongole
Spaghetti with clams and cherry tomatoes
This is a light, fresh and yet full flavoured pasta dishes so frequently served along the coast. Small clams are usually used for this recipe.
The spaghetti remains in bianco (without a tomato sauce). The cherry tomato halves are tossed into the pan at the last minute to heat them through.
Here we go –
- 1 kg (2lb 4oz) small, fresh clams
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
- 1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
- 125 ml (1/2 cup of white wine, plus a glass for drinking while cooking!!)
- 500 g (1 lb 2oz) spaghetti
- 200 g (7oz) ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
Soak the clams in lightly salted water for a few hours. Change the water frequently and drain in a colander to get rid of any sand. Rinse and drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a large wide stockpot. Add the garlic, chilli and half the parsley. When you begin to smell the garlic, add the clams and the white wine. Turn up the heat to high, put a lid on, and cook for 5 minutes or until the clam shells have opened.
Remove from the heat and discard any clams that have remained tightly closed. Remove about half of the clams from the shells, discard the shells and return the clam meat back to the pan. Leave the rest of the clams in their shells.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water. While the spaghetti is cooking, add the cherry tomatoes to the clam pan and season with salt and pepper. Return to the heat for a few minutes to heat through. Drain the spaghetti when it is ready and add to the clam pan, toss with a pair of tongs.
Coat the clams with the liquid from the clams. Put into individual pasta bowls, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil.
Fabulous with a slice or two of fresh bread to dunk and a glass of Passerina to drink!
Over the coming months we want to share a selection of seasonal recipes with you, from the heart of Italy.
Year after year, as the months and ingredients change, so does the family table. We prepare and serve what is in season, strawberries are ready in April, we don’t eat them in December! The earth gives us what we need, oranges and their vitamin C in winter and refreshing watermelons arrive in August.
Ingredients vary, not just seasonally, but monthly. Sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Each month passes and we see a change in the fields. The locals are passionately involved with their surroundings and respect the land. They lovingly sow their crops and naturally reap most of their produce in the summer months.
Some products are ever present, carrots, celery, sage and rosemary, and they form the basis of most casserole dishes.
Here in Le Marche the quality of the ingredients is very important. Dishes are simple and delicious. A piece of meat, grilled and transformed with lashings of local olive oil, a peach eaten off the tree after lunch. The gorgeous artichoke dipped in lemon juice and luminous green olive oil. Tomatoes bursting with the scent of summer.
It’s April and the weather has changed. We are surrounded by flowering fruit blossom. Their beautiful colours reveal the imminent peach and plum harvest. There is tarragon and rocket and the wonderful arrival of succulent strawberries, which help to rid the body of toxins, accumulated over the winter, with their slightly astringent qualities.
April is the month of spring cleaning and Easter. Artichokes are now in the fields. Their tall, solid, lilac crowned stalks stand proudly in smart lines.
This week’s recipe – starting with something simple.
Carciofi Ripieni – Stuffed artichokes, perfect served with roast lamb.
- 12 medium globe artichokes
- 1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
- 4 garlic gloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 30g (1oz) butter
- 500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
Rinse the artichokes and trim the tough outer leaves.
Cut away about a third of the top spear of each artichoke. Cut away the stem completely, in line with the artichoke bottom.
Put each artichoke bottom side up, onto a wooden chopping board. Push gently against the artichoke with your hand to widen the central cavity of the artichoke. Using scissors, snip away any top spikes of the internal small leaves.
Mix the chopped parsley and garlic together and divide the mixture between the artichoke cavities and the leaves.
Put the artichokes upright in a high rimmed saucepan, where they can fit in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add the stock. Put a knob of butter into each artichoke and bring the stock to the boil. Spoon over a little of the stock, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the artichokes are tender. Remove the lid and continue cooking to reduce the liquid until only a little remains.
Serve warm, enjoy!