I am a creature of habit. A creature of bad habits. But among my less bad habits is my propensity to enjoy spaghetti alle vongole “in bianco.” 99.9% of the time, I like spaghetti with clams in a white sauce of clam broth, garlic, and olive oil (and pinot grigio on the side). Occasionally, cherry tomatoes can be added.
But the “in rosso” version, which adds more tomatoes into the mix, changes the dish up completely. And frankly, it’s a nice alternative. I will still be ultra careful in restaurants about all sauces vongole (especially the reds), which tend to be drowned and mushy. But at home, white and red may now actually be a toss up.
They say habits are hard to change. This one may be easy.
P.S. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Remove any clams that are broken, or which do not close immediately if tapped. (I prefer smaller clams if you can find them, but not the tiny ones.) Place in a large skillet and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the shells open (discarding any clam with a shell that does not open).
In another large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic until golden. Add the tomatoes and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Remove the clams from the skillet with a slotted spoon and then remove most of them from their shells. Place the clams into the skillet with the tomatoes. Add some of the remaining liquid from the clams.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente (2 minutes less than package recommends). Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the clams. Mix in the parsley. Serve immediately, evenly distributing the clams. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper for a little kick.