Spaghetti with Agretti, Clams and White Miso

I’d been thinking about clams for days. Shells clacking as they’re tossed through steaming pasta, starchy water dripping through the late February sunlight. Their sweet meat is like tiny treats to slurp from exploded hinges as saline juices mingle with the honk of garlic and fermented depth of miso.

We made this riff on spaghetti alle vongole into a Friday lunchtime treat, threading tangles of crisp, salty agretti (monk’s beard) through the dish to bring freshness and colour. This Italian coastal plant is very popular on London menus at the moment and I couldn’t resist buying a bunch in Peckham’s General Store. It’s not the kind of vegetable I’ll buy often (too expensive) but the thought of it playing with the white miso and clams was too much for this hopeless ingredient spod to resist.

We ate it with a half bottle of chilled rosé hanging about in the fridge and plenty of bread to squidge into the clammy juices leftover. It felt as good as a holiday.

Spaghetti with Agretti, Clams and White Miso Recipe

Serves 2

250g spaghetti
250g clams (I didn’t weigh them tbh but just grab a nice big load of clams from a fishmonger, a couple of handfuls per dish if you like)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 heaped tablespoon white miso, mixed with a little of the pasta cooking water until dissolved
A large knob butter (don’t be shy, use about 25g)
200g agretti
Splash of white wine

Put the pasta on to cook in plenty of boiling, salted water.

Melt the butter in a large, lidded frying pan. Add the crushed garlic and chilli flakes and cook out for a minute or so, stirring. Add the miso and wine and let that bubble down.

Add a large ladleful of pasta water and let it bubble down and emulsify with the butter.

Add the clams and agretti, then turn up the heat to medium/high and add another splash of pasta water. Put a lid on and let them steam for around 4 minutes, or until all the clams have opened up.

Remove the pasta from the water using a claw and slosh it into the sauce pan. Toss aggressively. Serve immediately with good bread for those juices.