Martha's Spaghetti alle Vongole

spaghetti vongole
Photo: Lennart Weibull
Prep Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
50 mins

Tiny clams like cockles taste sweet and make an excellent foil for tangy cherry tomatoes and Martha's DIY roasted-garlic butter in her take on the Italian classic.


Roasted-Garlic Butter

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon mashed Garlic Confit (from about 6 cloves)

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • Kosher salt


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 12 ounces spaghetti

  • 6 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes (1 ¼ cups), halved

  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Soave

  • ½ cup bottled clam juice, such as Bar Harbor

  • 2 pounds very small clams, such as cockles

  • ¾ cup packed coarsely chopped parsley, plus more for serving

  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving


  1. Roasted-Garlic Butter: Mash together butter, garlic confit, and lemon zest. Season with salt. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months. (Makes 1/2 cup.)

  2. Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until slightly less than al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.

  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic with oil in a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high until just golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, transferring each slice to a plate when browned. Add pepper flakes and tomatoes to skillet; cook until tomatoes soften a bit, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add wine and bring to a boil; cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add clam juice and return to a boil. Add clams, cover, and cook 20 seconds. Uncover and cook, removing clams to a large bowl as they open, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard unopened clams.

  5. Add pasta, parsley, 1/2 cup pasta water, and 3 tablespoons garlic butter to skillet (reserve remaining garlic butter for another use). Cook, stirring, until pasta is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir, adding more pasta water as needed to create a silky sauce. Pour over clams; toss to combine. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with garlic slices and more cheese and parsley; serve.


You can also use regular unsalted butter instead of the roasted-garlic version in a pinch.

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