Above are the ingredients for pasta alle Vongele. This recipe is pretty easy, though I’ve since learned that substituting fresh pasta for dried pasta is usually best advisable for creamy type sauces. As this particular dish is far from creamy, substituting fresh for dry wasn’t a problem.

This is mis en place, the French method of making certain that all of your ingredients are available and ready when needed, and in place. Even if I hadn’t heard of this standard of preparing for cooking, it would be how I would have approached cooking in any case. I have a dozen small ramekins which serve triple duty, and most often as the receptacles, as shown here, for my cooking prep.

This particular recipe immediately struck me as missing one of the prime ingredients in the sauce that Sicilian fare often brings to its sauces–butter. I followed the directions to use extra virgin olive oil but in the end substituted half of the oil with some unsalted butter. And while the final result was certainly flavorful enough, the broth in the end, a mix of white wine, clam juice, and the clam liquid which was released made for a fairly unattractive ‘gray water’ broth at the bottom of our bowls. On those occasions when we would have vongole from Lo Coco’s restaurant in Berkeley, the sauce at the bottom of the bowl was a sweet, briny yellow of semi-emulsified butter just begging for bread dipping.

Regardless, last night’s effort was well received by my personal Gordon Ramsey, and not without the expected notions of how to improve it. Actually, given that I’m working at trimming down another five pounds, adding more butter and bread to my diet is not in the plans. As it stands, I used this recipe and it’s pretty serviceable. If you want a bit more flavorful sauce, I would cut back a bit on the clam juice and substitute butter for the oil. Yeah, it won’t be as ‘healthy’ but…