Pasta Vognole (with Clams & Cream Sauce)

Little Neck Clams

Little Neck Clams

by Cat, Aug 2010 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Storage of Live Clams & Mussels2. Steaming Live Clams & Mussels; 3. Steamed Mussels with Pasta and Vegetables

Growing up in inland Montana in the 50s, 300 miles from an ocean shore, I’d not had much opportunity to have clams or mussels except for the tough things in a can. So it was with some trepidation that I tried my first fresh-caught, fresh-cooked steamer clam after I’d moved to Oregon. Oh my God! How heavenly!

Since then, I’ve been a fan of both clams and mussels. One of my favorite ways to eat these small animals is steamed in the shell with pasta and a good sauce, as in this recipe. Their broth lends their sea-flavor and vital minerals to the marinara. Paella and bouillabaisse (or cioppino) are other favorites. And good clam chowder (much of what you get I would not consider ‘good’).

Pasta Vognole (with Clams and Cream Sauce)

This is a traditional Italian dish, but you can use any shellfish, such as baby oysters. This version is adapted from Group Pasta Vognole Clam Pasta Recipe (1). I’ve not yet tested this; I guess it serves at least 4, based on 1 lb clam/serving.

The original recipe cooks the clams separately, then removes them from the shells before adding to the pasta dish. Or you can use frozen shelled clams. However, I prefer to steam the clams in the shell when I add the broth. Then remove them from the shells before adding the cream.

Ingredients & Equipment:


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 lb steamer clams in shell
  • Kosher salt (for brining, optional; see Brining Live Clams & Mussels)


  • 450 g (16 oz) linguini or other flat pasta, or angel hair pasta
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as dry vermouth
  • 1 cup homemade chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Dash of Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  • bowl for washing clams
  • saucepan (for cooking pasta)
  • 3 quart saucier or saucepan



  1. Mince garlic and finely-chop onion.
  2. Wash, dry and chop parsley.
  3. Wash, dry and chop fresh basil, if using
  4. Clean clams: Wash clams and put in basin with water. Prepare brine (see Brining Live Clams & Mussels), then pour brine over; the clams will spit out the excess sand in their bellies and the shells will open partly. After 15 minutes in brine, rinse and drain.
  5. [If you want to precook the clams, do that now, in boiling water until the shells open completely.]


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, set aside to keep warm.
  2. Heat olive oil in saucier over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and parsley; saute until soften. If using cooked clams, add with wine and broth, and simmer a bit. Alternately, add clams in shell with wine and broth, and steam until the shells open completely. Then remove from shell.
  3. Add cream and basil, and season to taste.
  4. Top pasta with sauce and grated cheese.


  1. Group, Pasta Vognole Clam Pasta Recipe:

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