Spaghetti con Vongole e Calamari


I like the addition of calamari to a classic recipe. The timing is important here - the calamari must be tender, & you need the seafood cooking while you par-cook the spaghetti. Then they can be tossed together at the right moment & the spaghetti can finish off its cooking in the lovely thick seafood sauce. I have used a mix here of Vongole veraci (carpet shell clams) & the smaller Lupini. Your clams will probably have been purged of sand – check with your fishmonger. If not soak them for a few hours in well-salted water, changing the water several times.

Serves 2

350g (12oz) clams in shells
2 calamari
140g (5oz) spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
125ml (½ cup) white wine
a pinch of peperoncino

If you've been soaking your clams, give them a swirl in the water, rinse, drain, & leave in the colander. To prepare the calamari, firmly pull the head & innards from the body & wash the body well. Cut off the head just below the eyes, leaving the tentacles in one piece if they're small. Discard the head, pull the transparent quill out of the body & rinse out the tube. Peel off the outer membrane & slice the tube into 3mm thin slices. Pat dry with kitchen paper (you should have about 170g/6oz cleaned calamari).
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan that has a lid. Add half the garlic, & when it smells good, add the clams, 1 tablespoon parsley & 3 tablespoons wine. Cover & cook over high heat until the clams open. Discard any that do not open. Transfer the clams to a large bowl. Add all the clam water to the bowl (if you have any suspicion of sand in the water – you can strain it in through a muslin-lined colander). Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan with the rest of the garlic. Add the calamari, 1 tablespoon parsley, peperoncino & a dash of salt. Cook over high heat until the calamari changes colour. Add the rest of the wine & let it reduce a little. Remove from the heat & add the clams & juice to the pan.
Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until almost ready. Drain, add to the seafood pan & toss over high heat to thicken the clam sauce until it coats the spaghetti. Serve with an extra swirl of olive oil, black pepper & parsley.