Spaghetti with wedge clams

Spaghetti with wedge clams

Spaghet ti a lle arselle

By
From
Acquacotta
Serves
6
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Also known as telline or wedge clams, these rather small, flat and extremely tasty clams are highly regarded in the kitchen. Marco often recounts stories of family holidays on the Tuscan coast, when his father would wander off to rake through the sand for hours, coming home with buckets full of arselle. Unfortunately, they’re not as easy to find anymore and there are many restrictions on fishing them, so this is reflected in their price at the market.

Arselle are in season from May to September, though the best season for finding them is just either side of the too-hot months of June– August, when they tend to bury themselves further into the sand to keep cool. In Monte Argentario, you can find them along the shallow, fine-sand beach of Feniglia. But there’s nothing quite like enjoying a plate of pasta made with local arselle eaten right on the beach itself – the handful of restaurants on the Porto Ercole end of Feniglia offer this delicious dish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg wedge clams, (or vongole clams)
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
250ml dry white wine
freshly chopped red chilli or dried chilli flakes, to taste (optional)
500g dried spaghetti
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Rinse the clams quickly under water, weed out any with crushed shells (tiny chips or cracks are usually fine) or that are open and don’t move when touched or squeezed. (Rule of thumb: if they are open before cooking, they’re dead. If they don’t open after cooking, they’re dead. Throw them away). Purge the clams, if necessary, for at least 1 hour (see ‘Purging Clams’). And regardless of whether or not you’re purging, do not skimp on step 5.
  2. Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  3. Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Let it sizzle for 1 minute until pale golden, then add the clams. Toss briefly to coat the clams, then add the white wine. Turn up the heat to high, then cover and cook, giving a good shake here and there for another 90 seconds, or until all the clams have opened. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add freshly ground black pepper or chilli to taste.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (see the recommended time on the package). Drain, reserving about 60 ml of the cooking water if needed. Toss the spaghetti with the remaining olive oil, parsley, the clams and all their juice. If it needs any extra liquid to keep it all juicy, add the reserved cooking water.
  5. Serve immediately.

Note

  • In Italy, mussels and clams are often sold in plastic nets weighing either 500 g or 1 kg, so the recipe here is for cooking 1 kg of clams. It would easily feed six but if you can buy by the weight, you can pare this back to about 750 g of clams and 320 g pasta for four serves. You can use vongole clams the same way, which are a little plumper and often not as sandy as arselle.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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