Spaghetti alle Vongole (Linguine with Clams & Zucchini)

A wonderful Italian recipe that is a Christmas Eve favorite in Naples. 

“This Italian dish is part of a traditional Neapolitan cuisine. It is very popular throughout the Campania region and is also popular in Rome, and is certain to be popular with you.” 
–Manuel Marquez
Senior Executive Chef

INGREDIENTS:

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup (60 ml) pure olive oil

4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 lbs/680 g), sliced into 1/4-inch

thick (3-mm-thick) rounds

1/2 tsp (3 g) fine sea salt

32 littleneck clams (about 3 1/2 lbs/1 2/3 kg), washed

1/4 tsp (1 g) hot red pepper (chili) flakes, plus extra for serving

2 Tbsp (30 g) chopped Italian parsley

12 oz (340 g) linguine

1 Tbsp (14 g) unsalted butter

 

PREPARATION:

  1. Put a pot of water with salt on to boil.
  2. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and heat with both oils in a large, nonreactive sauté pan over medium heat until they start to sizzle. Adjust the heat so garlic continues to cook evenly in the oil, releasing its own oils, and softens but does not brown (about 2 minutes). Add the zucchini and carefully blend with oil. Season with salt.
  3. Continue cooking slowly, stirring from time to time, until zucchini is completely softened and starts to break apart but does not brown (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and let rest in the oil for 2 hours. Pour into a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the zucchini and oil separately. Keep the same pan, without cleaning, for cooking the clams.
  4. Heat the zucchini oil in the pan over medium heat until it starts to sizzle. Add clams, cover the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the clams and gently shake the pan from time to time until they start to open (about 5 to 6 minutes). The cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the clams and thickness of the shells. Add the reserved zucchini, hot pepper flakes, and parsley. Gently stir in the clams. Set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta al dente. Reheat the clams and the zucchini mixture, add the pasta and toss for a further minute to let the juices from the clams be absorbed into the pasta. Add butter at last moment to sauce for a rich flavor and “shine” (in french monter the sauce). Serve right away.

    Serves 4 using deep pasta plates

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