Spaghetti with North Carolina Clams

Menu PartAppetizer/Small Plate
Cuisine TypeItalian
Spaghetti with North Carolina Clams

Chef Teddy Diggs


Carrboro, N.C.

Fresh littleneck clams work the best for this dish and they’re more abundant in summer, especially along the Eastern coast. Chef Teddy Diggs sources his from local waters for his North Carolina restaurant, Coronato, to menu this Italian classic, spaghetti with white clam sauce.


2½ lb. North Carolina littleneck clams

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 small dried chilies

3 whole garlic cloves

12 sprigs Italian flat leaf parsley (stems and leaves)

1½ cups dry white wine

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Kosher salt, to taste

1 lb. spaghetti

3 tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Juice from ½ lemon


    1. In sink under cold running water, wash clams, scrubbing the shells well with a coarse brush to remove any sand.
    2. In wide pot with lid, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add whole garlic cloves, dried chilies and parsley sprigs; add clam. Quickly add wine and cover pot. Allow clams to steam until open, about 5 to 7 minutes.
    3. As soon as clams open, transfer clams and cooking liquid to a large bowl; refrigerate to cool completely.
    4. Strain liquid from clams and aromatics; place liquid in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat with sliced garlic. Cook until liquid reduces by half.
    5. Meanwhile, pick meat from clam shells, discarding any clams that did not open. Set clam meat aside.
    6. Fill large pot with water and salt to taste; bring to a boil over high heat. When water is rapidly boiling, add spaghetti. Cook until al dente; drain and add cooked spaghetti to reduced clam liquid. Continue to cook over medium heat, moving the spaghetti around gently with tongs to coat the pasta. Cook for about 3 minutes until liquid glazes the spaghetti.
    7. Remove from heat. In slow, steady drizzle, add remaining ½ cup olive oil to pot while tossing spaghetti so that oil emulsifies with pasta. Add reserved clams and chopped parsley; continue to mix until clams are warmed through. Finish with lemon juice before serving.  


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