When it comes to food, autumn has to be my favourite time of the year! From the start of the root veg creeping into the supermarkets, juicy pumpkins lined up ready to be turned into a delicious soup or sweet yet nutty butternut squash to make the perfect warming salad , to the run up to Thanksgiving, this time of the year is about celebrating good food and making the most of those cosy evenings. While I do not actually celebrate Thanksgiving I am each year inspired by American food bloggers. It is a time to sit down with family and friends over good food and make the most of the autumn’s produce. For me that is inspiring and gets me excited for Christmas. And as much as I love spring and summer for it’s asparagus and strawberries, I always feel like autumn is that something a little more special.
Autumn also brings my absolute favourite of foods – mussels and clams! I love it when I see the first of the mussels at the local fish counters or even in the supermarkets. Mussels thrive in the cold water and I always grab the first lot I come across to make a big bowl of Mussels in a White Wine Sauce. There is something so comforting about sitting down on a cold, wet autumn evening to a bowl of steaming mussels.
Just like mussels, clams thrive in the colder months. Yet whenever I make this Spaghetti Vongole it always brings back sweet memories of holidays and adds a little of that mediterranean magic to my kitchen on a cold evening! I love nothing more than scooping the juicy little bits of fish out of it’s shell with a bit of tender and well seasoned spaghetti. There is so much debate as to what is truly a typical Spaghetti Vongole that I often get confused. Do you make it with tomatoes or Bianco (without)? Personally I like to cook it with some cherry tomatoes for that sweetness with some onions and garlic. Once the tomatoes are cooked down enough that they are soft and tender I then add a little smoked paprika and some white wine to start to create a broth. I then cook the clams in that broth. The clams need just 7-8 mins and by that time the broth will have thickened with the tomatoes to create a delicious thick sauce ready for the cooked spaghetti to be thrown in and mixed with the clams and the sauce. For me that is the perfect balance by avoiding a rich tomato base that would take over the flavour of the clams while still having a sweet, tomato sauce that is thin enough to sit in the background with just a hint of sweetness.
- 500g clams
- Spaghetti (for 4 servings)
- Small bunch parsley (finely chopped)
- 1 small packet cherry tomatoes (10-12 in total and halved)
- 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 2 small shallots (peeled and finely diced)
- 200ml white wine
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 red chilli (finely sliced)
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- Olive oil
- Black pepper/ Salt
- Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
- In the meantime heat a dash of olive oil in a large/ deep pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook for around 4 mins until the onions are soft and golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 mins until starting to soften.
- Add the smoked paprika, chilli and tomato puree and mix well with the tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Pour in the white wine and then add the clams. Place a lid on the pan and cook for around 4-5 mins or until most of the shells have opened.
- Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the clams. Pour in the lemon juice and add the fresh parsley. Mix everything together so that all ingredients are combined. Season with a little more black pepper and serve immediately.