This recipe takes its name from the city of Naples, where both fresh tomato sauce and shellfish are traditionally served with vermicelli. Here the two are combined to make a very tasty dish that is perfect for a cold winter’s evening.

  • 1 kg / 2¼ lb fresh clams
  • 250 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup dry white wine, or vegetable stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 1 large handful fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 8 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • ½-1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 350 g / 12 oz dried vermicelli
  • salt and ground black pepper
  1. Scrub the clams thoroughly with a brush under cold running water and discard any that are open or do not close their shells when sharply tapped against the work surface.
  2. Pour the white wine or vegetable stock into a large, heavy pan and add the bruised garlic cloves. Shred half the parsley finely, add to the wine or stock, then add the clams.
  3. Cover the pan tightly with the lid and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the clams have opened.
  4. Tip the clams into a large colander set over a bowl and let the liquid drain through. Leave the clams until cool enough to handle, then remove about two-thirds of them from their shells, tipping the clam liquor into the bowl of cooking liquid. Discard any clams that have failed to open.
  5. Set both shelled and unshelled clams aside, keeping the unshelled clams warm in a bowl covered with a lid or thick cloth.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until softened and lightly colored. Add the tomatoes, then strain in the clam cooking liquid. Add the chilli, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Bring to the boil, half cover the pan, and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Chop the remaining parsley finely.
  8. Add the shelled clams to the tomato sauce, stir well, and heat through very gently for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Drain the cooked pasta well and tip it into a warmed bowl. Taste the sauce for seasoning, then pour the sauce over the pasta and toss everything together well. Garnish with the reserved clams, sprinkle the parsley over the pasta, and serve immediately.