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Linguine alle Vongole

Lauren Collins

Linguine alle Vongole is a classic Italian dish that is surprisingly simple to make.  It's a great way to enjoy local littleneck clams, and takes only 20 minutes or so to put together.

The simple flavors of this Italian dish are what make this one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time.

When I was in college, I worked at an Italian restaurant in Providence, RI that was famous for their linguine with clams - it was even featured on Food Network!  They offered red or white sauce, and if you know what's best for you, you order the white sauce.  Red sauce is good I guess, but white sauce is out of this world.

The rich white wine sauce leaves you scrambling for some bread to sop it all up when you're done, even after you just inhaled an entire plate of pasta.  Unfortunately, the restaurant has since closed, so I made it my mission to make my own. 

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I see so many recipes out there for vongole recipes calling for butter and breadcrumbs, but really all you need are the simple ingredients that make this dish so good.

Linguine alle vongole is Italian for linguine with clams, and is very popular in coastal regions of Italy.  This is also a very popular dish here in America, and another great way to cook your catch here in New England on Cape Cod.  

This recipe is wonderful to serve on a cool summer evening, along with crusty grilled bread and a big salad.  I can picture it already - the outdoor table set, the lanterns lit, the sun setting, the birds chirping, a bottle of white wine chilling and a big ole bowl of spaghetti alle vongole about to be devoured.

How to Make a Vongole


It's important to remember that Italian food is meant to be simple.  Simple, fresh ingredients are what make Italian food so wonderful, so don't go thinking you'll have to spend a fortune to make this dish!  

To start, you'll want to get yourself some fresh littleneck clams from the market.  A pound of littlenecks should only take you back about $5.  When you get home, put them in a strainer and wash and scrub the shells.

I personally like to add in extra clam meat to my sauce, so I like to purchase canned chopped clams to bulk it up.  I only buy the Bar Harbor chopped clams from Maine, not only because they taste fresher than other brands, but also because I know they're local to me.

If you don't want to use canned chop clams, then plan to double or even triple the poundage of littleneck clams at the market, and then pick up a bottle of clam juice (Bar Harbor makes a great clam juice as well).  

The other ingredients that make a vongole sauce is fresh garlic cloves, fresh flat leaf parsley, and a good white wine.  I also love a little spice in my dishes, so a pinch of red pepper flakes is added to my sauce as well, but that is optional.  

Make sure to also try to find fresh pasta instead of dried and boxed versions.  You'll want to make sure whatever pasta you're using is cooked al-dente, however fresh pasta will just have that really good bite to it, with a slight chewiness that really holds up nicely to the sauce.

Once the pasta is done and the sauce has simmered to the point that the clam shells have opened, toss everything together in the same pan before serving.  This lets the pasta absorb some of the juices in the sauce before it hits your plate, giving you even more flavor.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!  

You can view the recipe below or click here to print.  This is intended to serve 4 people and should take you about 20 minutes to throw it all together.  Enjoy!

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Lauren you are 100% right on with this. I have frequented Mediterreneo many times in the past. Their clam sauce was awesome. I still miss their bolognese with fresh papperdelle and the torneados beef appetizer. Makes me hungry thinking about it. That and the clay pot cooking Walter Potenza used to do, food you cant get anywhere else close by.

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    1. There are so many dishes I miss having there! I can’t remember exactly what it was called, but it was a beef appetizer in a creamy thyme sauce with grilled bread…it was heaven! Maybe I’ll try to recreate that one too! The bolognese was incredible too!

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  2. ok, so I am a horror show in the kitchen. I always say, “if you see me cooking you should gather up the kin folk and head for the hills, or a local restaurant ” b/c like I said my culinary creations leave a lot to be desired.

    with that said, this recipe looks easy peasy. I think that i may even be able to pull it off. it looks delicious too. So unfortunately my unsuspecting girlfriend Shirley will have to eat my cooking again but I am confident. I’ll let you know if I get the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

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    1. Yes this is great to hear!! I think you’ll knock this recipe out of the park 🙂 Happy cooking and let me know how it goes!

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      1. ok so last night was the night, I was going to try to up my culinary skills. I am glad to say I received a thumbs up from my girlfriend. we both loved it, she said it was a restaurant quality dish and I have to agree. thanks for the idea, so at this point Linguine all Vongolo is my new number one recipe replacing my old stand by English Muffin Pizza’s LOL…. thanks again Laureen.

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        1. That’s so great to hear!!!

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  3. What was the restaurant in Providence? Just curious as I grew up in the area.

    Reply
    1. Mediterraneo! I was a hostess there for three years 🙂 Every night I would spend half my tip money on meals there lol! It was so good, I’m sad it’s now closed.

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      1. I was going to ask the same question about what place … you probably have seen (or know) my sister, who used to go there all the time.

        Curious, you mentioned this being a “healthier” recipe … what is the less healthy recipe?

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        1. I should clarify – Mediterraneo made vongole the right way, no butter or anything extra, just the simple ingredients that make this dish so good. That being said, I see so many other recipes out there for vongole calling for butter and breadcrumbs, and some even with a béchamel sauce (why would they do that??), so I am declaring this a healthier recipe for vongole sauce in general, compared to other recipes out there, but not Mediterraneo – those guys knew what they were doing 😉

          Reply
  4. Looks yummy Lauren! Thanks

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    1. I hope you’re able to try it, it’s really yummy 🙂

      Reply

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