My husband always says to me, "give me any pasta and I'll be a happy man". That's almost his precise words and it is true! His favourite Italian food has to be pasta and pizza - the 2 basic Ps. So this particular weekend I decided I'll cook his first favourite dish, pasta. I had quite a few bottles of white wine lying around (it's the cheap white wine) which would be just nice to be added into a pasta sauce.
The only sauce that I could think of that would use white wine was vongole. It's a pretty simple pasta dish to put together and is certainly tasty enough. Vongole is basically small clams served in a rich tomato sauce and tossed with pasta. It makes up the classic southern Italian dish, sphaghetti vongole. Just be sure to boil your pasta with plenty of salt to flavour it and also remember never to rinse your cooked pasta after that. (Long time ago, I used to do this until I saw some cook shows which advises you against it. Why not, well the starch in the cooked pasta will help the sauce to stick to the sphaghetti).
Adapated from "Pasta" by Joanna Farrow
1 kg small fresh clams
150 ml dry white wine
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
Small handful of flat leaf parsley chopped
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp dried mixed Italian or spaghetti herbs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1) Scrub the clams, discarding any damaged ones or open ones that do not close when tapped with a knife.
2) Bring the wine to the boil in a large. heavy-based saucepan. Tip in the clams cver with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. shaking the pan frequently until the shells have opened. Remove the clams, reserving the liquor, and sheel about half of them. discarding any that remain closed.
3) Heat the oil in a clean pan. Add the nion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, bay leaves and the reserved clam liquor and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened and pulpy. Add the mixed herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
4) Stir in the clams, parsley and lemons rind and juice. Heat through for 1 minute. Check the seasoning and serve.