This classic Venetian dish is surprisingly easy to make, and the simple flavours are wonderfully delicious. While you can make this dish with any kind of clams, I prefer the small, carpet shell clams which can be bought in most fish markets year-round. Make sure you have your guests ready and waiting at the table, as it must be served straight away. Perfect with a glass of chilled wine and fresh crusty bread.
1kg small clams, scrubbed clean
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves of garlic
10 cherry tomatoes
250ml white wine
400g dried spaghetti
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1–2 dried chillies
• Add the pasta to the boiling water with a good pinch of salt and cook according to packet instructions until al dente. About 5 minutes before your pasta is ready, get ready to start cooking – you'll have to be quick about this, so no mucking about!
• Put 4 generous lugs of extra virgin olive oil into the hot pan and add the garlic, parsley stalks and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Crumble in the dried chilli and add the chopped tomatoes. Stir everything around constantly and just as the garlic starts to colour, tip in the clams and pour in the wine. It will splutter and steam, so give everything a good shake and put the lid on the pan.
• After about 3 or 4 minutes the clams will start to open, so keep shuffling the pan around until all of them have opened. Take the pan off the heat. Get rid of any clams that haven't opened.
• By now your pasta should be just about perfect. Drain and add to the pan of clams along with the parsley leaves and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Stir or toss for a further minute or two to let the beautiful seashore juices from the clams be absorbed into the pasta.
• Serve right away.