Vongole Pasta with Explorer's Gin

Vongole Pasta, Wild Garlic, Explorer's Gin

With summer now upon us this dish celebrates those fresh summer flavours. It started originally as a simple Italian peasant dish and is now a celebrated Italian Classic with clams and a delicious white wine sauce. Recipes can vary with the use of fresh tomatoes and parsley.

Our recipe uses wild garlic leaves instead of parsley. With its fresh, garlicky smell wild garlic is an unmistakable scent in woodlands and forests in the spring months. Preferring to grow in shady and damp conditions, the wild garlic season starts in late winter and lasts until early summer, although it may be past its best by then.

Ingredients

  • 1 generous tsp salt
  • 325g (11½oz) dried linguini or 400g (14oz) fresh spaghetti
  • 1kg (2lb 2oz) clams in their shells, well washed and scrubbed – discard any that are not tightly shut
  • 60ml (2½fl oz) Explorer’s gin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 160ml (5½fl oz) double cream
  • 4 tblsp chopped wild garlic leaves, plus 2 tbsp to serve
  • ½ lemon squeezed

Method

  • Place a medium–large saucepan of water on to boil and add the salt. When it comes up to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Fresh pasta will cook much faster.
  • Strain the pasta, leaving 50ml (2fl oz) of the cooking water in the pan to prevent the pasta from getting sticky, then return the spaghetti to the pan.
  • Whilst the pasta cooks, place the clams, gin, and sliced garlic in a large wide saucepan on a medium–high heat, cover with a lid and cook for 3–4 minutes until the clams have opened.
  • Using tongs or a slotted spoon, pick out the clams and drop them into the spaghetti. Discard any clams that remain closed.
  • Add the cream to the sliced garlic and gin and heat for 1–2 minutes until slightly thickened (not too thick or you’ll need to add a splash of water), then add the wild garlic leaves and lemon juice.
  • Tip the pasta and clams into the sauce, stir over the heat for a few seconds, then serve with extra wild garlic leaves (chopped) sprinkled over the top.
  • Finally squeeze the lemon over your dish.

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