Spaghetti With Clams, Butter & Bottarga {Spaghetti Alla Vongole}

The end is finally in sight, and we will be moving into our new home tomorrow. When we started this journey to live closer to family, we never imagined that it would take so long. After many months of delays involved in having to tag every hardwood tree on our lot, and then creating environmental plans to replace each tree that we had to remove to build our house, we finally were able to actually start building the house. That was of course after we also had to wait out the nesting season of some variety of owl that was living on our lot. I have to say that there were times that I wondered if we would ever get finished!

The next few weeks will be busy ones as we move into the new house and then return to finish packing up the old one so I am working hard to get some recipes scheduled while I am busy. I also am not sure just how soon we’ll have internet after moving into the new house so I wanted to create a buffer of recipes that would cover my absence. My husband and I both love Spaghetti Alla Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams) and make it often carrying the recipe from time to time. I prefer a white sauce and do not like tomatoes in my recipe, but I do like it to have a little heat so usually add some red chili flakes. I enjoyed Spaghetti With Clams topped with grated bottarga when we were in Sardinia last year, and it has taken me almost half a year to replicate the recipe at home. Bottarga is the Italian name for a salted, cured fish roe, usually from grey mullet or tuna (bottarga di tonno). We bought a couple of pieces of the dried variety on our trip, but you can find the powdered variety sold in tiny jars in many specialty food shops. Bottarga adds a unique, slightly fishy, a little salty flavor to any recipe and it really adds a lot of flavor to this dish.

This recipe is pretty standard for traditional Spaghetti with Clams, and apart from the addition of the shaved bottarga on top, the only unique ingredient is a small amount of butter added to the olive oil which adds a velvety texture to the pasta. We use the smallest clams possible when making this dish, and do choose very fresh clams for the best flavor. To serve this dish we like to remove at least half the meat from the clams, leaving some in the shell for serving. Do throw out any clams that do not open up because they may not be fresh.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2018

Spaghetti With Clams, Butter & Bottarga


  • 1 Pound Dried Spaghetti
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Red Chili Flakes
  • 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 2 Pounds Small Very Fresh Clams
  • 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 1 Cup Dry White Wine

To Serve:

  • Grated Bottarga (About 1/2 Teaspoon Per Bowl)


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, add the oil, garlic, chili, and half the butter to a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and cook a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add the wine, clams and parsley, cover with a lid and cook, shaking the pan from time to time, until all the clams open, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and add to the frying pan along with the remaining butter, reserving a small cup of pasta water.
  6. Toss to mix well over high heat allowing the butter to melt.
  7. If the pasta seems a little dry, add some pasta water.
  8. Remove the meat from half the clams, then toss everything well.
  9. Serve in individual bowls topped with some of the grated bottarga, and arrange some of the clams still in the shells on top.