Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams)
- Score a cross through the skin across the base of each tomato. Boil some water and put the tomatoes in for 30 seconds, until the skin starts to come away. Peel and quarter the tomatoes, get rid of the seeds and then dice the flesh.
- Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl with 1tbsp of olive oil and the torn basil leaves. Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Mix and put to one side to infuse.
- Rinse clams and check the shells are clean. They should be clean if bought from a good fishmonger, but if not, just scrub the shells lightly with a wire-wool pan scrubber.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and if you are using dried spaghetti (12-13 minute cooking time), start cooking it.
- Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Pick the leaves from the parsley and chop them.
- Put the remaining 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil in a wide-based frying pan (that you have a lid for) and heat over a medium heat.
- Crush the garlic into the oil and add the finely chopped chilli. Cook for a minute or two (don’t let the garlic burn).
- If you are using fresh or home-made pasta spaghetti start it cooking now in the separate pan of boiling water.
- Add the clams and white wine to the frying pan, increase the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, shaking every minute or so, until the clams have opened.
- Add the tomato and basil mix, the chopped parsley and another pinch of sea salt flakes to the clams and stir through. Remove from heat and put the lid on to keep it warm.
- Drain the spaghetti and put ½ tbsp. of olive oil in it to stop it sticking.
- Serve the spaghetti into pre-warmed bowls, and then share the clams and their broth between the bowls. Grind over some more black pepper. Enjoy with a nice glass of dry white wine.
- Be careful not to cook the clams too long or they will get very chewy.
- If a clam has a broken shell, or if doesn’t open when it has been cooked, then it is safest to discard it.