Spaghetti Alle Vongole, Red Or White
Let the clams sit in cold water for at least one half hour to allow the sand to come out. Scrub the shells with a brush. Clams that are opened are not fresh and must be discarded. Cook the clams in about 1 cup of water allowing the clams to steam open. Remove them from the water and discard any clams that do not open. Reduce the water by boiling it for about 2-3 minutes to condense the flavor of the clam liquid. Strain the liquid to make sure there is no remaining sand and put it aside.
Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Put the cooked spaghetti into the sauce and toss the spaghetti with the sauce until it has absorbed some of the sauce. If you choose to not add the pepper flakes, serve a dish of red pepper flakes on the side. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and squeeze fresh lemon over the top.
Note: You can also add about 1 1/2 lbs. of tomatoes, skinned, seeded and cubed or cheery tomatoes cut in half or quarters if you wish to make a red sauce. Add the tomatoes with the wine and clam liquid. Fresh tomatoes need only a few minutes to cook if you want them to remain whole. Do not use tomato sauce as this is a very different sauce and the flavor of the clams will be lost in the heavy flavor of the tomato sauce.