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Recipe of the Month Spaghetti alle Vongole

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves 4


500g/1lb very small fresh clams, or a small jar of clams in brine 3 tbsp olive oil 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tsp anchovy paste (optional) 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley 400g/14oz canned chopped tomatoes Salt and freshly ground black pepper 450g/1lb dried spaghetti Method

If using fresh clams tap each one sharply and discard any which stay open. Scrub the remaining clams.

Add the clams to 2-3 tbsps water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until all the shells have opened. If using fresh clams discard any which have not opened after five minutes.

Remove the clam flesh from the shells (you can leave a few in their shells for garnish) and dip them quickly into their cooking water to rinse off any sand. Strain the juices from the pan through a sieve lined with muslin or a sheet of kitchen paper and reserve the liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and fry until it begins to turn pale gold in colour, then add the anchovy paste (if using) and parsley and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the strained clam juices (if you are using a jar of clams, you can use some or all of the brine from the jar, but be careful it doesn't make the sauce too salty). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions and drain. Just before serving add the clam flesh to the sauce and stir well.

Mix the sauce into the cooked spaghetti. Serve garnished with parsley and any remaining clams in their shells.

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