I have tons of wonderful memories from my year in Salerno, and certainly this recipe is one of them. I lived in an old flat near Piazza San Francesco, where one of the best markets in Salerno is located. My roommate Antonietta and I would get up early in the morning and venture ourselves into the buzzy market, filled with the smell of fresh vegetables and the sound of the grocers advertising their merchandise. Watching her bargaining with them in Salernitano was quite a show.
She taught me how to cook pasta properly, and how to prepare a decent “ragù” (You can find the recipe here). The kitchen was the center of the flat and we spent countless evenings around the table chatting, smoking cigarettes and drinking espresso.
One rainy evening she cooked me these spaghetti, and every time I throw the white into the pan while cooking them I remember her loud laughter, it is as if I am back there, sitting in that kitchen, the coffee maker whistling away.
To cook these ticket to Southern Italy you would need (4 people):
- 350g Spaghetti
- 600g Clams
- 2 big onions
- A bunch of flat leaf parsley
- A glass of white wine
- 2 crushed chillies
- The juice of 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
Wash the clams with plenty of cold water to remove any sand they might have. Fill a pot with water to cook the spaghetti, add half a tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil. It might seem a lot of salt, but it is necessary if you want your pasta to have some taste. Most of it will remain in the water anyway. Cook the pasta “al dente”, that is tender on the outside but just a bit chewy in the middle. Think the spaghetti will finish cooking in the pan, the aim is letting them absorb all the juices from the clams.
Finely chop the onions and parsley and throw them to a hot pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When they are starting to cook add the clams and mix, let them mingle together for a bit before adding the glass of wine. Once you have added it cover the pan and let the clams open with the steam. When they are open, remove the lid and squeeze the juice of a lemon over the clams.
Drain the pasta when cooked and toss it to the pan, mix it gently until well combined and serve topped with grated parmesan to taste.