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Spaghetti alle vongole

Spaghetti alle vongole
Alternative namesSpaghetti con le vongole
CoursePrimo (Italian pasta course)
Place of originItaly
Region or stateCampania
Main ingredientsSpaghetti, clams

Spaghetti alle vongole (Italian: [spaˈɡetti alle ˈvoŋɡole]; lit.'spaghetti with clams') is a pasta dish consisting of spaghetti cooked with fresh clams. It is a traditional dish originating from the coastal regions of Southern Italy, particularly Naples and the Campania region. The preparation typically involves garlic, parsley, olive oil, and occasionally white wine. Palourde, or carpet-shell clams (Italian: vongole veraci; pl.), are commonly used, along with the small Mediterranean wedge shell (Donax trunculus, also known as the Tellina or "bean clam"). There are numerous regional variations of the dish.

Types of clams

Palourde, or carpet-shell clams (Italian: vongole veraci; pl.), are used, or the small, Mediterranean wedge shell (Donax trunculus, also known as the Tellina or "bean clam"). Both types are also called arselle in Liguria and Tuscany.[1] In America small cherrystone clams may be substituted.[2][need quotation to verify]


Italians prepare this dish two ways: in bianco, i.e., with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; and in rosso, like the former but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south. Traditionally, the bivalves are cooked quickly in hot olive oil to which plenty of garlic has been added. The live clams open during cooking, releasing a liquid that serves as the primary flavoring agent.[3] The clams are then added to the firm pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or vermicelli), along with salt, black pepper (or red pepper), and a handful of finely chopped parsley.

Regional variations

In the Liguria region of Italy, east of Genoa, spaghetti alle vongole (veraci) means spaghetti with tiny baby clams in the shell, no more than the size of a thumbnail, with a white wine/garlic sauce. Linguine also may be used for the pasta in preference to spaghetti.

Italian-American recipes sometimes use cream in this dish, but in its area of origin this would be considered most unorthodox. Gillian Riley considers cream alien to the spirit of Italian cooking, remarking that "the way cream dumbs down flavor and texture is not appropriate to the subtle flavor and consistency of pasta".[4]

In the United States, cheese is sometimes added to the dish, although Italians believe it overpowers the simple flavors of the clams and of good quality olive oil.[5]

Linguine alle vongole

See also

Media related to Spaghetti with clams at Wikimedia Commons Spaghetti with Clams at the Wikibooks Cookbook subproject


  1. ^ Gillian Riley, The Oxford Companion to Italian Food (Oxford University Press, 2007), entries for "Palourde", p. 355 and "Wedge Shell", pp. 578–79.
  2. ^ See Margaret and G. Franco Romagnoli, The New Italian Cooking (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1980), p. 104.
  3. ^ "Spaghetti alle vongole". Archived from the original on January 21, 2018.
  4. ^ See, Gillian Riley's entry on "Cream" in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, p. 147.
  5. ^ For a discussion about the Italian dislike of putting cheese on pasta dishes with seafood from an American point of view, see Robert Trachtenberg, "Just Grate", New York Times Magazine, March 30, 2008. Trachtenberg terms the prohibition "a mantra."

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