Steaming Linguine Vongole with clams, garlic and parsley

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The chefs at Venetian restaurant, Polpo, teach us a few things about Italian food...

Linguine Vongole with clams, garlic and parsley
Polpo is one of London's most buzzing restaurant chains, serving up delicious Venetian dishes full of authentic Italian flavours.

To celebrate the restaurant's cuisine, owner Russell Norman has produced a stunning cookbook that takes you on a journey through the hidden gems and quirky back-streets of Venice. There are 140 recipes to take your time over, so you can be cooking up some of your own Italian treats in no time.

Here's one of our favourite recipes from the book to get your creative juices flowing...

Linguine Vongole

Russell says, "This dish has taken on something of a legendary status for me. Just saying or hearing those six syllables takes me back to the first time I ever tried linguine vongole.

It was Venice, of course, and it was an over-lit, busy and brash canteen of a place called Ai Quattro Feri, just off Campo San Barnaba.

The pasta dishes were only on offer to share – in other words, the minimum order was for two people. I was on my own, but they wouldn't prepare a single portion. I thought I could leave what I wasn't able to eat and ordered the Linguine Vongole for two.

The dish that arrived was huge; a mound of steaming, glistening pasta punctuated with chopped parsley and at least 30 delightful little clams, the whole thing smelling wonderfully of garlic and powerfully of the sea. Of course, there wasn't a scrap left ten minutes later."

Serves: 4


1kg good clams
300g linguine
Extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
Flaky sea salt
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
250ml white wine
1 large handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped
Crusty bread, to serve


It's all about timing. Get a deep pan of salted water on the boil while you clean the clams by washing them vigorously under cold running water. Scrub if necessary and discard any clams that are cracked or remain open when tapped.

When your water has started to fully boil, place the linguine in carefully and stir slowly once or twice. Add a slug of olive oil to the water and bring down to a gentle boil. Meanwhile, put a very wide frying pan on a medium flame and heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil.

When the pasta has been boiling for about 3½ minutes, it means it has about 3½ more minutes to go before being perfectly al dente. It is essential that neither the clams nor the pasta overcook.

Be very strict with timings. So now throw the clams into the hot oil pan, add the dried chilli, a pinch of salt and the garlic and stir until the clams start to open. This will take no more than 2 minutes. Discard any clams that are still closed. Add the white wine and cover the pan with a lid.

Drain the pasta just retaining a small amount of the cooking water. Quick. Toss the pasta into the clams with the retained cooking water and add the chopped parsley, a few more glugs of olive oil and stir all the ingredients through. Take off the heat and check the seasoning.

Your pan will be a steaming mini masterpiece. Put it onto the table with 4 large shallow bowls, 4 forks, a big bowl to throw the empty shells into, a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and some crusty bread (ignore what the purists say about never serving bread with pasta – how else are you going to slurp up those lovely juices at the end?). Forget all conversation for the next 10 minutes.

Polpo, £14.75,

Will you be giving this dish a try?



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