In Italian, this dish is called spaghetti con vongole e pomodori. In my family, it's called na'spaghettata con clamese. What language is that, you ask? Well, that's my parent's Neapolitan dialect sprinkled with English words that have been morphed into something that sounds like Italian by adding vowels and emphasizing certain syllables. Whatever you want to call it, this dish is light, fresh, and a great replacement for our usual heavier Sunday meat sauce. To make it, we usually embark on quite the adventure (you can read about it here) because no effort is too great for the perfect spaghettata.
1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
8 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 1.5 pounds fresh clams
1 pound spaghetti or linguini
Place fresh clams in a bowl and fill with cold water until the clams are covered. Add black pepper and let sit. The pepper makes the clams "sneeze" which cleans out the sand inside. After about 20 minutes wash the outside of the clams thoroughly, removing any sand and residue.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic. Pat the clams dry and once the garlic begins to brown, add them to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams open, about 15 minutes.
Add the parsley, tomatoes, and salt. Cook until the tomatoes soften, stirring occasionally, about 15 - 20 minutes. In a pot, cook the spaghetti or linguini according to the instructions on the package and strain. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the clams and toss. Let sit in the pan for 2 - 3 minutes so the spaghetti can absorb the all the flavory goodness of the clams and tomatoes. Plate and let's eat!
Variation: Substitute 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, washed and left whole, for the plum tomatoes. This version is called spaghetti con vongole e pomodorini (baby tomatoes).