Spaghetti With Clams, Tomatoes & Garlic Inspired By Esther Coren

Esther was my first ever castaway on Desert Island Dishes and I’m so glad she was. Having first come across her (old) blog Recipe Rifle years ago, her writing made me howl with laughter and her reviews of recipes were always honest and frank and filled with humour.

Her episode was delicious, really delicious. I love her honesty, her openness and her relaxed approach to cooking. Her attitude to food, the effect it has on her body and everything in between is both refreshing and relatable. Esther is a woman that says it how it is and I think this is a large aspect of why people clamour to be her friend and explains how she has legions of fans checking in on her Instagram stories daily.

I thought it was lovely that she chose a dish that her husband (restaurant critic Giles Coren) cooked her as the best dish she’d ever eaten. It is romantic, and of course I’m sure Gile’s food is great but also completely relatable that sometimes food cooked by other people is delicious, purely for the simple reason that you haven’t had to cook it.

Esther said she loved her husband’s Clam Linguine, otherwise commonly referred to as Spaghetti Vongole. I think that is a dish that a lot of people love, but maybe they only tend to order it in a restaurant rather than venture into having a go at making it themselves. But if this is the case, people you are missing out! It is so simple to make (sorry Giles), but really it is. You only need a handful of ingredients and the length of time it takes to cook the pasta to pull the whole thing together. You do need to be near a fishmonger so you can pop in and buy some clams but really that is as difficult as it gets.

I do normally always make mine with linguine as I think the flat surface hangs onto the sauce a little better, but I’ve decided for this I would use Spaghetti. Either or. I don’t know what went into Gile’s version, but for mine I am going to add garlicky tomatoes as I love them and it is how I most love to eat this dish. And I feel this blog must take the same tactic as when buying presents for someone else; always give them something you yourself would love.

  • Author: Margie
  • Yield: Serves 2



200g dried spaghetti

250g small clams

2 tbsp olive oil

15g butter

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup white wine

100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 /2 red chilli, finely chopped

salt and pepper

handful of chopped parsley

lemon wedge to serve


First rinse the clams in cold running water

Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil, butter in a pan and once melted add the cherry tomatoes. Season and cook on a high heat for a minute or so until the tomatoes are a little mushy but still kind of hold their shape. Add the garlic and the chopped chilli.

Add the clams and turn the heat up. Add the wine, put the lid on the pan and leave them for a minute or two until the clams has opened up.

Discard any clams that refuse to open.

Drain the spaghetti (but scoop a mug of the cooking water and leave to one side) and add to the pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to bring it all together and add a little of the spaghetti cooking water if you need to loosen it.

Stir in the chopped parsley, and divide amongst the bowls. Serve with a lemon wedge and lots of black pepper.

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