Monday, 4 February 2013

Spaghetti with Clams and Mussels

The other week, I shared my Spanish Seafood Paella recipe with you.  When I buy the pot-ready mussels and clams for the paella, I buy them in a vacuum packed 1kg bag, and there are more in the pack than I need for the paella which means the night after paella is clam and mussel spaghetti night.

Spaghetti Vongole is spaghetti with clams.  You can also make this dish just with mussels, but I made it with both as I had them left over and didn't want to waste them.

Ingredients  (serves 4)
500+ grams baby clams (vongole, pippis)
500+ grams pot-ready mussels
300-400 grams spaghetti (wholemeal preferable)
1/2 cup 125ml dry white wine (or use water or stock)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and diced
1 small red chilli,  seeded and finely diced (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt, pepper and lemon wedges to serve


Prepare your clams and mussels.  I usually soak the clams in cool salted water for an hour, then rinse and drain.  The mussels are pot-ready and can go straight in.  Discard any that do not close when tapped.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rapid boil, then add the spaghetti.  Cook for the recommended time with the water constantly at a rolling boil.  Set the timer - mine usually takes 11-12 minutes.  I'd run out of wholemeal, so used normal white spaghetti.

While the pasta is cooking, gently heat a small amount of EVOO in a non-stick fry pan, and  sweat the garlic for a couple of minutes.  Add the wine and turn up the heat.

With about 4-5 minutes to go on the pasta, add the clams to the fry pan and cover with a lid. Shake the pan from time to time.

With 3-4 minutes to go on the pasta, add the mussels to the fry pan and cover with a lid.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it.  Now you can either add the spaghetti to the pan with the mussels and clams, or if you are worried the clams have left some sand/grit in the cooking liquid, put the pasta back in the saucepan and add the mussels and clams to the pasta, then pour over some strained cooking liquid.  Toss through the tomatoes and chilli and season with salt and pepper.  Discard and clams or mussels that do not open.  Serve with lemon wedges.

It is good to have some crusty bread on hand to soak up all the juices.

Notes & Variations
You can also add diced zucchini (courgette) to increase the vegetables.
You can make it just with clams (vongole), just with mussels, or with both.
If I don't have any chillis, I use Chilli infused EVOO and drizzle it over at the end.
The quantities I've given are a rough guide.  Adjust them to suit your needs and tastes.
You can replace the tomatoes with tinned tomatoes if you want more of a tomato base, or you can leave the tomatoes out entirely and just use the wine and garlic.
To make the classic Moules Marinieres just steam the mussels as above, replacing the garlic with a couple of French shallots, diced, and add some thyme and a bay leaf. Serve with crusty bread or oven-baked fries instead of pasta.  You can also steam mussels in beer, like they do in Belgium.

Mussels in Brussels - well, it's actually Brugge in Belguim - June 2009

To learn how to purge (remove sand from) clams and mussels see the Sydney Fish Markets web site here.

Interesting Facts
Vongole is Italian for clams.
In Italy Parmesan cheese is never added to seafood.  It just isn't done.
Mussels need to steam rather than boil, so don't add to much liquid to the pan.  The mussels release their own liquid when they open which adds flavour to the dish.

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  1. I have never bought mussels that way. It looks delicious x

  2. This looks so good ! Perfect summer dish ! X

  3. Yummy!!! Wow so clever to cook this from scratch Kylie... I used to love going to the Belgium Beer cafe in Sydney for mussels in broth & fries. Where do you buy your mussels in Brissy? Cute pic too!


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