The first time I cooked pasta with clams, I used white wine. I didn’t know the proper name for the dish but some readers supplied that information generously. Spaghetti alla Vongole. This pasta with clams dish was cooked with red wine. I don’t know if it still falls within the Alla Vongole definition but I have to say it was good. It was the second pasta dish that I cooked a couple of days ago when I made pasta with prawns in creamy garlic sauce for my husband and kids.
This dish was inspired by Mario Batali’s Steamed Cockles in a Habanero Chive Broth (Vongole al Vapore con Peperoncino di Jamaica e Hierba Cippollina) in the Celebrity Italian Table Cookbook. Batali is a soup dish; I decided to reduce the liquid until thick then I poured the clams with the sauce over cooked pasta.
Soak the clams in water for several hours, changing the water often. Wash the clams under running water until no trace of sand remains. Discard the clams that remain unopened. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, douse with cold water, drain again and set aside.
Heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion; cook until they start to soften. Pour in the stewed tomatoes, breaking up large chunks. Pour in the red wine. Add the basil leaves. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer until the sauce has been reduced to half and has slightly thickened about 20 minutes. Add the clams. Simmer for about five minutes. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. Place the cooked pasta in individual bowls or plates. Ladle the clams and sauce over the pasta. Garnish with grated parmesan if you prefer.