Friday, August 19, 2016

Recipe: Linguine alle Vongole

The Linguine alle Vongole (means linguine and clams in Italian) is no doubt my all-time favourite pasta dish. No cream, no cheese, no tomato sauce, which makes it a pretty healthy alternative if you need your pasta fix. Do not belittle the vongole though, it's light, yet at the same time, packed with flavours from the chopped garlic, parsley, the sweet brine of the clams and the aroma of white wine. To be honest, this dish is not that difficult to make, but still scores high on the impressiveness level. 


Here's what you need to create this amazing dish:


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Difficulty: Pretty easy
Yields 2 servings

Ingredients

linguine pasta (about 200g)
extra-virgin olive oil
garlic, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc are good choices)
1 kg white clams*
a handful of parsley, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste
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* I recommend purging the clams by placing them in water with salt for about 30 minutes. The clams will purge any traces of sand, repeat if necessary. The last thing you want in a vongole is another texture - gritty sand.


Steps

1. Cook linguine accordingly to packet instructions in a pot of water lightly seasoned with salt and a splash of oil (to prevent sticking). Remove the pasta just before it hits al-dente. Drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Nomsaurus' tips: Unlike normal pasta dishes (which I would recommend you to add salt generously), salt the water slightly, you don't want the pasta to be overly-salted at this point, because the main ingredient - clams - is salty in nature.

2. In a saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, and add the sliced garlic, swirling the pan frequently to avoid burning the garlic. Cook until garlic turn slightly browned. Add red pepper flakes (as much as you desire), cook for approximately 10 seconds and add the white wine, then the clams. Turn up the heat to high.

3. Cover the pan, and cook till the clams have all opened up and released their juices, about 5 minutes. Remove the clams using a pair of tongs. 

Nomsaurus' tips: At this point, you can remove the meat from some clams, keeping some shells as garnish - if not, the finished product will be overcrowded with empty shells.

4. Add the cooked pasta into the saucepan with all the briny goodness, add about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water, and cook for 1-2 minutes, till the sauce is reduced. Season with salt and ground pepper if desired.

5. Stir in the clams and chopped parsley. Toss to combine. If it's dry, add the pasta water and mix, one tablespoon at a time.

6. As desired, you can drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with more chilli flakes and parsley. Don't wait for Christmas - Serve immediately.

Bon Appetit!