marisa mariella

easy mouthwatering recipes that unite your family and friends

Fettuccine alle vongole

The other day, I found myself standing in front of the fish counter. I asked the fishmonger for the freshest fish and that’s how I landed on vongole for a weeknight dinner. I tend to be generous so I use about 1kg of vongole for every 2 or 3 people. To reduce the cost, you could cut down a little but the more clams, the tastier the sauce.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, seafood
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people


  • 500 g fettuccine or linguine, spaghetti
  • 2 kg fresh vongole
  • 2 - 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 - 3 small tomatoes or 6 - 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 ounces white wine
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • More extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • Place a large pot of water to boil on stove.
  • Rinse vongole very well and place in a dry large skillet. Place lid and steam for a few minutes on high. (Read notes below to remove sand and grit.)
  • In the meantime, chop the garlic, tomato, and parsley.
  • Check the vongole to ensure that they have all opened. If a couple have not opened, then discard those.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the vongole from their juices. Set aside. Filter the juice to remove any sandy grit. (Read notes below to remove sand and grit.)
  • By now, the pasta water should be boiling. Add salt and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
  • In the meantime, remove about 60% to 80% of the vongole from their shells. Set aside with the remaining vongole in the shells. Discard the empty shells.
  • Rinse the skillet and dry. Place on high heat and add the oil and garlic. Stir with a wooden spoon and once the garlic begins to soften, add the tomatoes and let cook for a minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the vongole, and return the lid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer while the pasta is cooking. Taste for seasonings and add salt accordingly.
  • A few minutes before the pasta is cooked, lift it from the boiling water with a sieve or tongs and place in the simmering skillet. Toss well for a few minutes, allowing the pasta to absorb the juices. You could add just a little more of the pasta water.
  • Add the parsley, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and a fresh grating of black pepper. Continue tossing until there is little sauce left in the skillet and each strand of pasta is coated.
  • Taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, ensuring that each serving receives some of the vongole in their shells.



In keeping with Italian cuisine, this recipe uses only a few ingredients but it is essential that the clams are fresh. The only tricky part is to rid them of sand and grit. There is nothing like the texture of grit in your mouth to spoil an elegant meal. And if you think that canned clams and bottled juice are ways of avoiding this step, then this recipe is not for you. Here’s how to ensure a clean juice:
As soon as you know that you are serving vongole, place them in a large bowl with a tablespoon of rock salt and let them sit in cold water for as long as you can, preferably several hours. Rinse occasionally and replace the water. You’ll be surprised as to how much sand settles at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse well and continue with the recipe.
Then after the clams have steamed open, use a slotted spoon to lift them from the juice. Line a sieve with a coffee filter and place over a bowl. Pour the juice, allowing it to filter, gently swirling the sieve. Otherwise, pour the juice into a glass measuring cup and allow it to sit undisturbed for several minutes. Then, without shaking the measuring cup, gently pour the liquid, leaving the settled sand to the bottom along with a little liquid. Continue with the recipe.
Did you know that authentic pasta alle vongole is dairy-free? That means no cream, no butter, and no cheese… not even if it’s Parmigiano Reggiano. The only true variation includes trying different cuts of pasta. You could also substitute white wine with Prosecco or if you need to keep it totally alcohol-free, then just leave it out. As far as the tomatoes go, the original dish does include them but I love their sweetness and their red flesh against the green parsley and white pasta reminds me of the Italian colours.
Keyword clams, fettuccine, garlic, pasta, seafood, vongole, white wine