I washed up at a pizzeria in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and, after watching the Italian chefs prepare this simple yet delicious Mediterranean dish, I often made it for my lunch! Al dente Spaghetti, Clams, Tomato sauce…
But guess what! I bet not many people can boast of having had Spaghetti al Vongole cooked from scratch on the beach!
When I was young, we spent most of our summer holidays at my aunties', uncles' or grandmother's as we lived about 60 km from the sea in the Atlas mountains.
It was not unusual for a dozen kids to sleep in the same room. The added bonus was when Gran lay in the middle telling us ancient fables.
Most days, she took us kids to the beach in the morning till late afternoon.
Our lunch consisted of a few chips and a slice of bread as food was less important than having beach fun. This amazing feast was washed down with a swig of cheap cola. Heaven!
However, Sundays were a different affair as the adults joined the party!
A copious larder was loaded in the boot of the car and off we went.
On our arrival at the beach, the children virtually dived into the sea from the moving cars, while the adults set up camp in a remote corner of the sandy beach. Tattered parasols turned the camp into a tented Saharan village. All we needed was a few camels and goats and we would have looked like nomads.
A grand competition then took place. Buckets at the ready each one of us began collecting clams from the shallows.
The women, in the kitchen part of the “camp” lit a charcoal fire in a terracotta burner and got on with the sauce and the pasta.
This is the recipe:
Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil
Fry a finely diced onion until soft.
Add 2 finely diced cloves of garlic and fry until soft.
Add one tin of chopped and mashed tomatoes and 1tbsp. of tomato puree.
Add a glassful of water. Nowadays I add a glassful of white wine…Shhhhh!
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour.
In the meantime boil the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and cool under running water.
The clams need to be washed a few times to get rid of the sand. (Tinned or frozen clams may be used)
When ready to serve, heat the sauce up and add the fresh clams.
Once they are open, add some chopped basil and parsley.
You can either re-heat the spaghetti up in boiling water or just add it to the sauce.
Serve hot with Parmesan! Mmmmmmmm!
On the beach, once the Spaghetti al Vongole was ready, we were summoned to form a circle to wolf down this wonderful dish with thick slices of French bread to mop up the remaining sauce and our lips.
A cool drink and a slice of ice cold watermelon finished this wonderful meal. Ice cold because, on our arrival at the beach, bottles and watermelons were buried deep in the wet sand.
I would give up a gourmet meal at La Tour d’Argent to experience that once more!
Now, can anyone tell me if this isn't as near to heaven as life could really be...
Spaghetti al Vongole... Now, there is a dish I like!