I managed to forage some sea spaghetti (Himanthalia Elongate) for this recipe. It makes a great addition to this dish and it’s also great fun if you managed to forage your own clams.


Vongole is a classic European pasta dish. It originates in Venice where they use clams, but as cockles are easier to forage you can use them too. Plus they’re just as nice and are actually a type of clam!


30g sea spaghetti, or about four or five long, thin strands (don’t worry if you haven’t got any; the recipe will still work without it)

1 kg (2.2lb) clams or cockles, in their shells, freshly scrubbed clean and all tightly closed

Lots of flat leaf parsley – a whole bunch will do

5 cloves garlic

10 cherry tomatoes cut in half

200ml (3⁄4 cup) dry white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

425g (1lb) spaghetti pasta

Salt and pepper

1 or 2 chillies, depending on how hot you like it

Knob of butter

Drizzle of olive oil


Soak the sea spaghetti in fresh cold water for a couple of hours. Sea spaghetti is also available in most Irish health food shops and just takes 10 minutes to reconstitute.

Clean the clams or cockles with lots of fresh water, discarding any that don’t close after giving them a sharp tap.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

While the water is heating up do your prep: thinly slice the garlic, chop and destalk the parsley, cut the tomatoes in half or quarters and chop and deseed the chilli.

Once the water is boiling, throw in the spaghetti and sea spaghetti and cook until ‘al dente’.

While the pasta is cooking, use a wide pan or wok and allow to heat up and then add a drizzle of olive oil

Throw in the garlic and chilli and let them sauté for a minute. Pour in the white wine and add the clams or cockles and let them steam with a lid on for around four minutes until the shells have opened and the juices have run out of the shells. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a lid, you can make one with foil.)

Give the pan a good toss and then throw in a knob of butter and add the tomatoes

Stir and cook for another minute so the tomatoes soften

Drain the spaghetti along with the sea spaghetti and toss into the frying pan.

Mix all the ingredients together and divide into bowls.

Squeeze a bit of lemon into each one and add a sprinkle of sea salt and some cracked black pepper. Then place a good bunch of the parsley on top.

    ** it’s a very basic sauce to this recipe but there is a lot of flavour that comes out of the clams/cockles. It is a simple dish, that doesn’t need any dressing up, the main flavour comes from the clams and that’s what you want to preserve.

    Written by Jane Lamberth — September 12, 2012