Amp Up Your Linguine Alle Vongole With Canned Clams

The city of Naples sits comfortably in a coastal inlet in the southern Italian region of Campania. The city also sits roughly six miles away from one of Europe's most legendary and active volcanoes, Mt. Vesuvius, per Live Science. Home to nearly a million people, Naples has long been a bustling and busy port city, brimming with what Britannica calls an "original spirit." And while we all know Naples as the city that gave birth to pizza, there is more to Neapolitan cuisine than just crust, sauce, and cheese. Naples has plenty of other dishes that are just as delicious in their own right. One such dish is spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with clams.

This pasta dish originated in Naples but spread throughout Italy and the world. The dish is a simple construction, built on a base of long pasta, typically spaghetti or linguine, with fresh clams and a sauce of clam juice, white wine, oil, garlic, chilis, and, sometimes, tomatoes. We say "sometimes" because there is debate over whether tomatoes should be in the dish at all. Both those for and against are of equal vigor (via Italy Magazine). But there is another way you can amp up your spaghetti or linguine alle vongole that will add further depth and flavor to this already flavorful dish, as we shall now reveal.

Concentrated clam flavor

No doubt one of the reasons for linguine alle vongole's popularity is its star ingredient: the clams. Clams have long been a popular shellfish, sitting comfortably in the ranks with shrimp, oysters, mussels, and lobsters. So, it stands to reason that when making pasta in which your clams are the main focus, you'll want to bring out as much of that salty, oceanic flavor as possible. To achieve this, nearly all recipes for linguine alle vongole will have you using fresh clams, which are absolutely essential. After soaking fresh clams to get any sand out, you add them to the sauce, allowing the heat to open them up and release their glorious juices.

Another method that's not as common, and may bring with it a certain amount of trepidation, is to use canned clams for additional flavor. According to The Washington Post, adding a can of chopped clams to the sauce brings a brinier flavor. They also add texture when mixed with the whole clams that remain in their shell, as vongole is traditionally served. Some excellent brands of canned clams include Bar Harbor, Bumblebee, Crown Prince, and Cento, per Recipe Marker.