Fast Recipes

Giovanni Pilu's spaghetti vongole and bottarga

Salty fish roe, sweet clams and squiggles of pasta combine in this easy midweek dish.

By Giovanni Pilu
  • Serves 4
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"This is a classic Sardinian pasta dish that can be found in any seaside trattoria," says Pilu. "The bottarga adds a delicious umami flavour that enhances the sweetness of the vongole."


  • 500 gm dried spaghetti
  • ½ cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 kg vongole
  • 30 ml dry white wine
  • 50 gm bottarga (see note), finely grated on a Microplane
  • Flat-leaf parsley, to serve
  • Crusty bread, to serve


  • 1
    Add spaghetti to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until al dente (6-8 minutes). Drain well, reserving 250ml pasta water.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add 80ml oil and, when hot, add garlic and chilli, and stir until garlic has softened (1 minute). Add vongole and wine, then cover, shake pan well and cook until shells open (1-2 minutes).
  • 3
    Remove pan from heat and remove vongole using a slotted spoon. Gently pry open any unopened vongole shells using a blunt knife such as a butter knife. If the meat smells fine, you can use it; otherwise, discard.
  • 4
    Remove meat from half the shells, then return meat and remaining vongole to the pan. Add half the bottarga and cook for a further minute.
  • 5
    Toss spaghetti in sauce to coat, adding a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water as necessary until a creamy consistency (1-2 minutes). Toss through parsley, remaining oil and bottarga, and serve.


Bottarga (salted, dried and pressed mullet roe) is available from select fishmongers and delicatessens, or from The Essential Ingredient (