If you're able to get fresh clams, you can whip up spaghetti con vongole in minutes. Canned is okay but it's not quite the same.Warm some olive oil in a pot, add a crushed garlic clove and an anchovy fillet. When the anchovy has disintegrated, add the clams and a glug of white wine. The traditional recipe omits the wine but I sometimes include it depending on feel. Cover the pot and turn it down to medium-low. Steam until the clams pop open. Discard any that don't. Strain the liquid in the pot and set the strained liquid aside.Prepare your dried pasta (i.e., bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add your dried pasta and cook until al dente).Transfer the clams to a bowl and shuck them, making sure to reserve the clam juices. You can chop them if you like, or leave them whole. Warm some olive oil in a pan. Add the clams, clam juices and the reserved liquid from when you steamed the clams. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add copious handfuls of chopped Italian parsley. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Ideally your pasta should be done by now. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the pan with the clams. Toss. If the pasta seems too dry, add a little pasta cooking liquid. How much depends on whether you like the sauce "brothy". Taste for salt and pepper, then serve at once.If you're using canned clams, you could start by making a battuto of chopped garlic, olive oil and chopped Italian parsley. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until it turns a pale gold, then add the parsley. Cook for 1 more minute, then add your chopped clams and clam juices. The sauce is done when the clams are heated through. Taste for salt and pepper, then combine with the pasta as directed above.For some people, this entire procedure is a "production", but to me, it's pretty simple and takes about 40 minutes from beginning to end. Making bolognese is complicated by comparison. Depends on your point of view I suppose.
I've always wanted to try pasta with clams but obtaining fresh clams is a bit challenging. The possibility of using canned clams brings it back into thre realm of possibility. I'm sure it falls short of perfection but sometimes what's possible must trump what's perfect. Thanks for the inspiration.