cavatelli with clams

dr bob made a weekend visit to the heart of Puglia, the heel of Italy responsible for orecchiette and cavatelli. Where olive trees have been growing since the fall of the Roman empire or before. If you believe the local hype. Cavatelli had already been discovered in the frozen food section of local US supermarkets by the dr bob food reconnaissance team, so points were scored with the hosts when the pasta was recognized by name. [Those dumb Americans! What do they know about pasta.] Homemade cavatelli actually made in the home, with shellfish (no shells, no fish) caught by local fishermen, unforgettable taste.

But the details...? Clams or mussels?* We never remember the difference between them, or whether cozze or vongole are mussels or clams, or clams or mussels, and we've forgot which of the two in either language were in this dish. Little orange guys if that helps. All we do remember is mussels/clams, lemon juice, olive oil, and basil or was it parsley? In short, we don't remember much. In fact we even forgot how we made it the first time in our own kitchen.

* no relation to "pets or meat?" (from the rabbit scene in Michael Moore's movie "Roger and Me").


first try later corrections
1 10 oz can baby clams [mussels are better]
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon, juice of
1/6 - 1/3 c olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 c white wine
1/3 c fresh chopped basil [no basil, just more parsley]
1/6 c fresh chopped parsley
1 lb cavatelli
parmesan, freshly grated to taste [pecorino romano is better]
black pepper, freshly ground to taste


  1. Drain baby clams, putting the clam liquid (you can pass it through a paper towel if you want) into a nonstick frying pan. Press in garlic and simmer a while, not for long. This is a pretty quick pasta sauce, so you should already have gotten those cavatelli boiling. [Note: those canned clams look a bit sick compared to the memory of the real thing, but they're good enough for routine homecooked meals.]
  2. Throw in the baby clams, add some dry white wine to increase the quantity of liquid diminished by evaporation. Simmer. Add lemon juice. Add olive oil and spices. [We have since learned that they should all be parsley, no basil. The olive oil is especially important for taste with fresh shellfish.] Cut heat. Mix in the al dente cavatelli.
  3. Serve with fresh ground pepper and some freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste.


  1. clams = vongole, mussels = cozze.
  2. Adding some fresh chopped plum tomatoes is another option.
  3. This is best with big fresh colorfully orange looking mussels, especially if made for you with handmade cavatelli in southern Italy. Since that's not gonna happen, see what you can do for yourself.
cavclams.htm: 10-jun-2001 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]