Who was late you may ask, the clams, the spaghetti, or me…? Thing is that in my region (Campania, South of Italy) we use to prepare a fish menu for the Christmas Eve, and spaghetti with clams, is commonly the main dish at lunch. Here in San Francisco, I wasn’t able to keep the timing of the tradition precisely, but I tried to prepare most of the traditional dishes of my family. So here it is my recipe.
400 gr. spaghetti (1 lb.)
3 lbs. clams with the shell
3 cloves garlic, sliced
a small bunch of parsley, minced
a half spoonful dried crumbled red pepper, or fresh to slice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
two handfuls of cherry tomatoes, or 100 gr. canned plum tomatoes, diced
salt to taste
Choose fresh clams, and make sure that they are fresh and tightly closed. Wash them with fresh water and let them sit in salted water for a couple hours. Steam them in a covered pan for about 7-8 minutes. When they open, remove them from the pan and save their juice (important!!). Shell the 3/4 of them and leave the others with their shell.
Prepare the sauce sautéing the garlic in the olive oil, add the tomatoes, toss a few minutes and add the shelled clams and their juice. Let cook for few minutes (until most of the water is evaporated), stir and turn off heat. Adjust with salt, add the fresh parsley and the pepper, and stir again. Cook spaghetti al dente, drain and stir them into the sauce quickly. At this point add the clams with the shell and gently stir again.
Serve hot sprinkled with parsley to decorate and prepare for the New Year