I know, it is not summer, it is not vacation time and there is no beach here.
The political talk about the Italian ex prime minister and the new major of Rome, the diheartening images from Syria and the president elected, have killed me, I need a way to dream about sea, beaches and warm weather.
Today is one of those days that call for some kind of seafood.
When people marvels at the flavours and simplicity of Italian kitchen. I like to explain that the importance resides in fresh and great ingredients and I usually give out two examples, one of the two is this one.
The other one is even simplier and it is... well, we'll talk about it some other time.
Anyway, spaghetti con le Vongole it is...
1kg/2.2 pounds of fresh alive clams
2 cloves of garlic,central sprout removed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
chili pepper or black pepper (optional)
a splash of white wine
a handful of chopped parsley leaves
The most important thing when cooking with clams or shellfish is cleaning them really really well.
Clams are among those things that can't be improvised, they need deep cleaning, which means as soon as you buy them you should put them in a pan, add a handful of coarse salt and cold water and leave them there
Bart Simpson... don't ask...
for a couple of hours, the last half hour let water drip on the pan, this will create a flow of salty water and the clams will open a little and let out any remaining sand that they might have.
If I don't have at least a couple of hours before eating in which I can let them clean, I will not make clams.
While the pasta water is boiling, wash and rinse the clams vigorously, and place them on a large enough pan, with a generous amount of EVOO, the garlic with the central core removed, some chili or black pepper (if you use it) and a generous splash of white wine.
Cover with a lid and turn the flame to high, they are ready when are all open,
They will make a lot of juice, which you can dig in once eaten all the pasta with pieces of toasted bread and just soak up the juice and eat it and let it drool over your face and ... sorry... I had a moment... just let me compose myself...
... where were we...
oh yes, clams...
A smart move is to remove at least half of the shells (keep the meat), if you feel like, you can also filter the juice through a cloth or a very fine strain, and put it back into the pan.
Drain the spaghetti very al dente (like a couple of minutes early) and add them to the clams, toss and turn, with the flame on, for a minute or two, careful not to overcook the pasta. This will make the spaghetti soak up some of the juice and somehow multiply the flavour.