The first and last meal I always have in Italy is a simple vongole, with hearty and perfectly cooked pasta soaking up the clam juices while cooking – it’s absolutely the best. I also make a version without the pasta when I want to have a lighter lunch on a hot day. This is a very simple skillet recipe that can feed at least two for lunch, or four for a starter.
- 3 pounds of little neck clams or cockles
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 large shallots, rough chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 larger red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus more for finishing
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
- 6 slices of thickly cut grilled crusty bread
If you want to spice it up, add some crumbled and cooked spicy sausage out of the casing
- Fill a medium bin with ice water and mix in the flour, then add the clams. Let sit for 45 minutes to push the sand out, then rinse and keep on ice.
- Place a large skillet over medium-plus heat and melt the butter with the olive oil. Once bubbling, add the red pepper flakes, basil, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and shallots. Sauté until translucent. Add the wine and a teaspoon of kosher salt until boiling, then add the clams. Lower the heat to medium, and cover for 4 minutes, then add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and continue to steam the clams until they open. Stir all together so the juices get back into the clams, then sprinkle with malden salt, chives, chopped basil and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve immediately with grilled crusty bread.
When we were at Lake Como this summer for Luke and Kait’s gala wedding, there was an untold amount of Vongole served to the crew on all corners of the lake.