Xmas Eve in Naples: Spaghetti alle Vongole

November 22, 2018

Paola Toppi’s Spaghetti alle Vongole

It’s no surprise that Neapolitans have a fascination with seafood. Given Naples’ location on the bay and proximity to the Amalfi Coast and Capri, we are surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean and an abundance of quality seafood. We eat all things found in the sea both raw and cooked, and spaghetti alle vongole is so typical of the region. It has all the flavours of the Med, as well as the spiciness of chilli, the bite of garlic and, of course, very good olive oil.

In Naples it’s a tradition that we eat seafood on Xmas eve and meat on Xmas Day. Spaghetti alle Vongole is eaten in most Neapolitan homes on Xmas eve because it’s very healthy, easy to cook and, most importantly, fast – meaning you’re not slaving over a hot stove all day.

Serves 4-5


500g Spaghettini (De Cecco pasta)

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 glass dry white wine

400g cherry tomatoes cut in quarters or halves (optional)

Chilli to taste (optional)

12 basil leaves

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced


1 punnet baby parsley or 4-6 stalks of continental parsley

1 kg vongole (de-sand prior to cooking)


Add 10g salt/kosher salt/salt flakes per litre of water to pot and boil.

When water boils place pasta in pot. Stir occasionally so pasta doesn’t stick together.

Place a large frypan or pot on the stove and add extra virgin olive oil with pinch of salt. Add garlic and chilli (don’t brown the garlic). Add the vongole and heat then add white wine and basil leaves. Simmer for two minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes.

When the pasta is al dente add it to the vongole in pan. Stir gently and serve once all the vongole have opened.

Garnish with baby parsley