Linguine alle Vongole

Clams vary in brininess and the amount of liquid they’ll release during cooking, so you’ll need to adjust the salt and add pasta water accordingly.

vongole - Passione Italiana


  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 ounces sourdough or country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2 pounds clams (about 24) or cockles (about 32), scrubbed
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley


Bring 1 Tbsp. salt and 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, pulse 3 garlic cloves in a food processor until chopped. Then, add bread and pulse several times until fine crumbs form.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large oven over medium-high fire. Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are golden and crisp, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, season with salt, and toss to combine. Finally, set aside.

Wipe out the oven. Using a really sharp knife, very thinly slice the remaining 9 garlic cloves. Heat ¼ cup oil in the oven over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden around the edges, for about 3 minutes. Add ½ tsp. red chilli flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden all over. Quickly stir in wine and simmer until only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left in pot. Then you can add the clams and toss.

Cover and cook until clams are open, 5–7 minutes. Uncover the pot and transfer the clams to a medium bowl, leaving the liquid in pot. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook a few minutes longer, then transfer to bowl with others (discard any that have not opened at this point). Tent clams with foil.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Using a ladle, scoop out about 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with clam liquid. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is glossy and thick, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add parsley and butter and toss until butter is melted. Sprinkle about one-third of breadcrumbs over pasta and toss to combine. Give pasta a taste; you probably won’t need additional salt, but you can add some if you’d like. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with reserved clams, more breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.

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