Spaghetti alle Vognole
Also known as Clams in White Sauce, with Olive Oil, Garlic and Hot Pepper
2 lbs clams in their shell (the smallest you can get – Little Neck or ‘steamers’ on the west coast)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 red chili pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 lb spaghetti or linguine
In a large skillet or pan sauté the garlic in the olive oil (if you use the chili, sauté at the same time) over medium heat till golden.
Raise the heat to very high; add the clams and cook, shaking the pan occasionally. The clams will release their liquid and you should have enough to wet the pasta. Continue cooking till shells open, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat and size of the clams. Remove from heat, discarding any closed clams. If you prefer using the clams shelled, add them along with their liquid to the hot oil and garlic for a few minutes. Just till they heat through, otherwise, they will tough and rubbery if cooked too long.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Drain thoroughly and drop into the pan with the clams.
Season to taste with salt, and a few turns of the pepper mill. Sprinkle with the parsley, mixing as you do so.
Serve onto pre-heated dishes.