For us a pot of clams and pasta brings a certain serenity.  Living along the coast of the Monterey Bay, we are always amazed at the abundance of the ocean… but at the same time, shellfish makes us ravenous.  Sweet, meaty, briny… they embody the taste of the sea.  

Toss in some chewy spaghetti or some hair fallen from an angel to soak up their natural juices released when steamed, some tomatoes for a summery freshness, each chubby clam simmering in the lemon/garlic/butter/wine reduce sauce… and you have a little feast that is both simple and extravagant.  

Do you ever get the feeling, as we do, from a big pot of shellfish, that can only be described as an attitude of gratitude?  Enjoy!


4 pounds clams (we like Littleneck clams for Vongole)

16 ounces spaghetti or angel hair pasta (we use Montebello or Rustichella d’Abruzzo brand, or we use our own homemade pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter 

4 to 5 cloves garlic, depending on size

8 ounces white wine

8 ounces clam juice

1/2 cup Italian parsley

2 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped or 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper seeds (optional) 

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste


Boil the pasta and when al dente, rinse in cool water, shake well and put aside to rest.

Using a large saute pan, crush the garlic into the olive oil while it’s still cool and the warm it up slowly, being careful it doesn’t get past slightly toasty, just flavoring the oil

Add the white wine and the clam broth and simmer until reduced by a third.  

Now add the butter first and then the lemon juice, simmer until a beautiful creamy texture.

Add the clams and simmer on high heat until they have just opened.

​Add lemon zest, parsley and tomatoes and on low heat mix together until married.

Add back the pasta and serve in a large bowl with toasty crusty bread.