'Nduja and squid ink vongole

  • medium
  • 2
  • 45 minutes

Rosie’s recipe for squid ink spaghetti served with a spicy 'nduja and clam vongole sauce is a dramatic dish that really delivers on flavour. Have a go at making your own pasta for the full Italian experience.

First published in 2015

Taken from Rosie’s acclaimed book, A Lot on her Plate, this dish was inspired by the flavours of Southern Italy, in particular the spicy, soft, spreadable cured pork sausage - 'nduja. Rosie says ‘Nduja is one of my most treasured ingredients. It was first given to me by the Calabrian chef Francesco Mazzei… [and] brings an instant hot, savoury depth to any dish. Here it adds oomph to my favourite Italian pasta dish of spaghetti vongole. I love the way it contrasts with the sweet, juicy clams, and seasons the dish with fiery chillies.’ Although Rosie makes her own squid ink pasta for this recipe, you could use ready-made if you can find it in specialist shops, or even plain spaghetti if just cooking the sauce. Squid ink is normally available through fishmongers or specialist delis.

Taken from A Lot on her Plate By Rosie Birkett (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography: Helen Cathcart




Squid ink spaghetti

'Nduja vongole

  • 400g of clams, cleaned and kept in a bowl in the fridge covered with a damp tea towel
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, large, crushed
  • 50g of 'nduja, coating discarded
  • 50ml of dry white wine
  • 30g of flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 unwaxed lemon, grated zest and juice of
  • sea salt


Start with the spaghetti. Prep the work surface by dusting with a little flour and having a small bowl of water at the ready. In a large bowl, sieve in the flour and salt then make a well in the centre and add in the eggs and squid ink. Use a table knife to start bringing the mix together, then your hands to form a dough
Transfer the dough to the floured surface and start to knead (wetting your fingers in the bowl of water will help). After 5-10 minutes the dough should be soft, smooth and springy. Cut in half, wrap separately in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour
Set up a pasta machine on the widest setting. Unwrap the chilled dough and roll out one portion to fit the machine. Run the dough through the pasta machine no more than 8 times, reducing the thickness settings until the third thinnest is reached. Set this sheet aside on the floured surface while repeating with the second portion of dough
Attach the spaghetti cutter to the pasta machine. Cut each strip in half (approx. 15-20cm long) and run through to make spaghetti (if you don’t have the attachment, fold the pasta sheets in half and cut thinly with a sharp knife). Dust the strands with semolina flour and leave to chill and dry out on a baking sheet for 3 hours or more, until ready to cook
For the vongole sauce, run the clams under cold water for up to 10 minutes to help remove any grit. Fill a large pan with water and season liberally with salt, bring this to the boil
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of oil to a heavy frying pan and soften the garlic and shallot, before adding the 'nduja. Cook this until all incorporated and set aside
Add the squid ink spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, drain and reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooking water
Put the nduja pan back on to heat through and add the drained clams. Pour in the white wine and mix everything together before covering with a lid. After a few minutes check that all the clams have opened up and the liquid has mostly cooked off (any clams that still haven’t opened should be discarded)
Mix in the cooked spaghetti, reserved pasta water and parsley, then place in a large serving bowl. Stir through the lemon zest and juice and a drizzle of olive oil before serving (you may want a spare bowl to discard empty shells)
First published in 2015

Rosie Birkett is a food writer, food stylist and cook. As an authoritative food writer and editor she has worked with some of the world’s best chefs, built up a significant following on Twitter and appeared on Masterchef and London Live.

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