Spaghetti Alla Rosinella

From Cucina Napoletana: 100 Recipes from Italy’s Most Vibrant City (Interlink Books, 2008)

In this typical pasta dish from the Posillipo district of Naples, the most is made of the fresh seafood available along the coast of Campania. Posillipo, situated at the western end of the Bay of Naples and leading down to the water, is one of the oldest areas in the city – references to it can be found in both classical Greek and Roman works. Today, it is very much a residential quarter, but glimpses of its early history can be found in the Roman ruins at the water’s edge. There are also remains of the villa complex of Roman equestrian and contemporary of Emperor Augustus, Vedius Pollius, including an amphitheater perched on the cliffs above the bay.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
10 oz fresh clams, scrubbed and rinsed well (see note)
2 fresh squid, cleaned and prepared, cut into rings or small squares
7-8 oz fresh raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
14 oz spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and sweat the garlic and chili for a few minutes until soft. Tap the clams on the work surface and discard any that do not close. Add the clams and squid to the pan with half of the garlic and half of the chili, and continue to sweat, taking care that the garlic and chili do not burn. As soon as the clams open (discard any that do not), tip the contents of the pan onto a plate and set aside. Add the shrimp to the same pan with the remaining garlic and chili, and saute over medium-high heat for a few minutes until cooked. Pick the flesh from the clam shells, discard the shells, and return the flesh to the pan with the squid, garlic, and chili. (If you prefer, you can keep the clams in their shells for serving.) Season with salt and a little black pepper, and toss to heat through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of slightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce with a tiny amount of the cooking water (just enough to keep the pasta moist). Stir well, transfer to a large serving bowl or individual pasta bowls, and sprinkle with lots of chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Preparing clams Tap the clams on the work surface and discard any that do not close. Scrub the clams well under cold running water to wash away any grit. If you are not using farmed clams, you may need to purge them of sand or grit, but a good scrub on the outside and proper rinsing should do the trick. Otherwise, put the clams in a large bowl of salted water, making sure they are well covered (but do not cover the bowl). Soak in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or even overnight – any grit or sand will be left behind in the bottom of the bowl when you remove the clams. Rinse in plenty of fresh cold water, then strain the water through a fine cloth such as muslin or a clean dishcloth. You then pick out your clams and discard the grit. (Or you could simply rinse under cold running water.)