Linguine Vongole

04 Nov

(serves 3-4)
When someone mentions linguine, I can’t help but think of clams, the same way I think of bolognese when I hear spaghetti or carbonara when I hear fettucine. There are many varieties of Linguine Vongole, from light neuvo versions made with garlic and sake to ultra-orthodox ones served with clams still in the shell. My version of this timeless classic use a few extra ingredients to arrive at a richer sauce, but it’s still distinctively a Vongole.
  1. Smoked Clams in Oil (150g)
  2. Linguine (250g)
  3. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  4. Parmesan (3t)
  5. Pesto (3t)
  6. Onion (1) 
  7. Chardonnay (0.5 cup)
  8. Olive Oil (0.25 cup) 
  9. Basil (1t)
  10. Oregano (1t)


  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, so you’ll be ready to do the pasta at a moment’s notice.
  2. Cut your onion into half and slice into very thin half rings. These have to be thin (2mm) as they are meant to disappear into the linguine. Brown them in a sauce pan with 2T of olive oil.
  3. When the onion begins to soften, add 3t of pesto and 3t of crushed garlic and continue to stir fry. After a minute, turn up the heat and add your clams, including their oil. 150g of clams should be about what you get from two standard rectangular sardine tins.
  4. After another minute, deglaze with half a cup of chardonnay. Sprinkle in 1 heaped t each of basil and oregano and simmer on low heat.
  5. In the meanwhile put your linguine into the pot of boiling water.
  6. When the wine has lost 90% of its volume, turn the heat off. Pour in 1/5 cup of olive oil (extra virgin of course). If you like a hint of fresh garlic like me, stir 1t of crushed garlic into the olive oil before pouring it in. Sprinkle on 3t of finely grated parmigiano and give the sauce a final stir. 
  7. When your pasta starts to soften, strain it and continue the final softening in the pasta sauce itself. Toss the linguine in the pan as it cooks under medium heat until it is al dente. Taste and add a bit of salt if required (particularly if you didn’t use smoked clams).
  8. Finish off with a sprinkle of black pepper on the serving plate.


  • Why not fresh clams? Well they are hard to procure. They are troublesome to pre-boil. Their shells get in my way when I’m trying to enjoy my pasta. They take up more space and you’ll need a very larger pan if you are cooking for more than 2. The shells will scratch the pan if it is of the non-stick type. I can go on and on.
  • I’ve chosen smoked clams as the smoked flavour bleeds into the sauce and gives a very interesting taste. Besides, I generally avoid boiled canned clams as they carry a metallic taste from the can. If you have to use the unsmoked variety, remember to strain the can’s contents ahead of time to get rid of as much of the liquid as possible, and don’t deglaze with the chardonnay until the remaining moisture has evapourated in the hot pan.
  • You can also use the commercial powder parmesan instead of parmigiano if you like. Its only a small amount of cheese and its is being used mainly as a thickener.

Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Seafood


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “Linguine Vongole

  1. Jennifer

    November 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    This looks so amazingly delicious, I just wish I liked clams =). Even though I live near the water, seafood’s never been a big thing, but my family loves clams so this will be excellent to put in the recipe box for later use!

    Thanks for posting!

  2. YeeLing

    October 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I followed this recipe faithfully and the result was a quick but delicious dinner for the family. The sauce was surprisingly rich and thick enough to give the dish some “oomph.”
    The best part about this recipe is if I keep a couple of tins of smoke clams in my pantry, I can always make Linguine Vongole anytime I like. So thank you!


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