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Spaghetti alle Vongole in Rosso

Spencer Huey

Serves 4-6 people


1/2 yellow onion, medium diced
olive oil
1lb spaghetti
crushed chili flakes
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
2lbs scrubbed littleneck clams
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more to finish
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (like Sungolds)
1 lemon


Bring a large pot of water to boil and season with plenty of salt so it's as salty as soup.
In a large lidded pot, sweat the onion in lots of olive oil (enough to coat the plan) on medium heat until translucent and there is no color.
Meanwhile, boil 1lb of spaghetti until very al dente (a few minutes before what the package says) as we want to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Reserve about 2 cups of pasta liquid.
Add crushed chili flakes (heavy pinch to 1/2 teaspoon. It depends on how spicy you like it) and garlic slices to the onions. Sizzle for 30 seconds until fragrant. We don’t want color on the garlic as it will become bitter.
Add the white wine and clams. Immediately, place a lid on the pan for 3-4 minutes. Check on the clams and as soon as they open, remove them with tongs to a bowl. Remove any stubborn clams that haven’t opened after 6 min and discard them. They might have been dead on arrival.
Add the butter, cooked pasta and about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water to the remaining clam liquid. Toss the pasta with tongs until pasta is cooked and al dente. Pour in more pasta water as needed.
Add the parsley, tomatoes, and the juice/zest of 1 lemon. Taste and balance the pasta for salt, spiciness and acidity with salt, chili flakes and lemon. The pasta should be juicy so add more pasta liquid if it’s all been absorbed. Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve immediately.

Clams are sold live and should be purchased from a trusted seafood monger. Look for closed shells, stored on ice, and they should smell briny like the ocean. Store clams in the fridge in a single layer with a damp paper towel on top. Clams that don’t close after being tapped should be discarded.

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