Esparguete com Amêijoas – Spaghetti with Clams

Although pasta dishes are usually associated with Italian cuisine, you’ll find Portugal also has a rich variety of them too. Travel near any coastal region and you’ll soon find an array of seafood pasta dishes which are some of our favourites to come across. They’re often deliciously simple, sometimes even just pasta added to a regional dish or local food produce.

One of our favourites is Esparguete com Amêijoas, you can usually find it in seafood restaurants or usually any café that’s close to the coast or a fish market! If the basic recipe and ingredients sound familiar to you, that’s because it should. It’s the traditional dressing used in a lot of Portuguese shellfish recipes, olive oil, garlic, coriander and white wine. It’s used to great effect in the classic Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato. We always recommend serving our clams with some crusty bread for the left-over dressing. Our Esparguete com Amêijoas swaps the bread for a healthy serving of pasta to serve with that delightful sauce.

Spaghetti with Clams Recipe

For this recipe, we used Amêijoa Branca (White Clams), lots of alternatives are available, so pick which looks best or freshest at your local market of choice! Similarly, feel free to mix things up with the pasta choice, this dish works well with any long pasta shape.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Amêijoa Branca
  • 300g Spaghetti
  • 200g Cherry tomatoes
  • 2tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • Fresh cilantro
  • White wine
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Preparation

  1. Rinse the clams, discarding any open or broken shells you find. Place them in a food container, then cover with saltwater. Let them soak for 2 hours.
  2. Remove the clams from the water and rinse them thoroughly. If necessary, scrub them using a clean kitchen brush to remove any dirt or impurities.
  3. Place a large frying pan (one that has a lid, preferably) over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and garlic, and fry it for 2 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and some roughly chopped cilantro leaves, cook everything for another 3 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, place a tall pot over high heat, then add around 3 litters of water, bring it to a boil. Season the water with 2tsp of salt, add your spaghetti, cook it for the recommended time on the package.
  5. Add the clams, and a splash of white wine to the frying pan mixture, cover with a lid. Let the clams steam for about 3 minutes until the clams open, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the clams are cooked, discard any that did not open. We think it’s best to remove about half of the clams from their shells and leave them in the sauce. It’s a favourite restaurant tip of ours, it decreases the amount of work needed for the dish and increases the amount of clam meat for your guests!
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of its water. Add both the pasta and liquid to the clams, season it with salt and pepper, and more chopped cilantro.
  8. Stir thoroughly, making sure the pasta is evenly covered in the sauce. Serve with a glass of chilled white wine!

Let us know what you think in the comments! For some other delicious recipes featuring clams, take a look at our recipe for Carne de Porco à Alentejana, and our recipe for the traditional Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato!


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