Spaghetti Vongole

Spaghetti Vongole // Amy Elizabeth

There’s something about the chill outside that makes me want to indulge in fresh, light dishes. I’m trying to trick myself that it’s Spring already. I know we’re supposed to be living in the moment, but when the moment involves harsh winds and not being able to leave the house without 327 layers, then I think I’m allowed to wish for the lighter days and (slightly) warmer temperatures of Spring. This is the sort of dish that you should eat at a beachfront restaurant whilst wearing over-sized sunglasses and white linen, not curled up in front of the TV under a blanket, but sometimes needs must.

Spaghetti Vongole // Amy Elizabeth

The thing is, clams are in season right now – which means we’ve got to make the most of them whilst we can. I’m obsessed with all things seafood – whether it’s a big bowl of plump mussels, a decadent dish of lobster, a pile of juicy prawns or these sweet little clams, I am so there. I think a lot of people are put off from eating seafood at home because it seems a little tricky, but that reputation couldn’t be further from the truth. A little know-how is all you need, and this guide on how to clean and prepare clams will set you up perfectly for making this dish. 

Spaghetti Vongole // Amy Elizabeth

Spaghetti Vongole
Serves 2
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  1. 300g clams
  2. 200g spaghetti
  3. 10g butter
  4. big splash of olive oil
  5. 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  6. 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  7. 1 small glass of dry white wine
  8. small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  9. zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Rinse the clams in running water and scrub with a stiff brush if needed. Put them in a bowl and cover with salted water. Leave for a couple of hours before draining and rinsing to get rid of any grit.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water with plenty of salt, until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat until softened.
  4. Add the clams and the wine. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes until most of the clams have opened. Pick out any that are unopened and discard.
  5. Drain the spaghetti and add to the clam pan. Toss together and heat through for a minute.
  6. Stir through the parsley, lemon zest and juice and serve.
Amy Elizabeth

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Mussels in Weissbier

mussels 4

I have eaten a lot of mussels in my life. I first ate them in a seafood restaurant in Le Touquet; a simple pot of moules marinières that spawned a lifelong addiction. The simplicity of white wine and cream has always been my favourite, but since variety is the spice of life, I do occasionally stray from the tried-and-tested into more adventurous flavour combinations. This is one such occasion; this mussels in weissbier recipe maintains the simplicity of moules marinières but the depth of the flavour of wheat beer adds a little something extra that compliments the tenderness and delicate flavour of the mussels.

I first had this dish at The Mustard Pot, over two years ago now. They’ve since taken it off the menu, which is a real shame as it was one of the best. So, I decided to recreate it myself. Now is the perfect time for mussels; they’re in season now but remind me so much of summer that they pull me out of my winter-induced slump. I’ll be honest and say that I had never cooked mussels at home before I made this dish, and I was a bit nervous about it. Although cleaning and prepping the mussels is a little bit time-consuming, it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. There’s a great guide here, if you’re worried about it. Once all your prep work is done, though, the dish takes minutes to cook.  It’s a simple but impressive dish – it might even be perfect for Valentine’s Day if you’re that way inclined.

For two portions of mussels, you’ll need:

  • 500g mussels
  • 2-3 shallots
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • 100ml weissbier (I used Hoegaarden)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • a big swirl of double cream

mussels 1

1. Clean and de-beard your mussels. Discard any with broken shells, or which are already open but don’t close when you give them a sharp tap.

mussels 2

2. Chop your leek, shallots and garlic.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the leeks, shallot and garlic to the pan and fry until they’ve softened (about 4 minutes).

mussels 6

5. Pour in the weissbier, turn up the heat and add the mussels to the pot. Pop the lid on top and steam for 5 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again, until all (or most) of the mussels have popped open their shells. Delicious!

6. Season with salt and pepper, add a swirl of cream and give a stir to bring it altogether.

mussels 3

7. Serve with a cold glass of weissbier, big hunks of crusty bread and a couple of lemon wedges.

mussels 5

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