Spaghetti with cockles recipe

Spaghetti with cockles
Swap in three-cornered leek for garlic and parsley - Matt Austin

This British take on spaghetti alle vongole uses cockles instead of the traditional clams. The version here is great, but if you can get your hands on three-cornered leek, which is plentiful right now, you can swap out the garlic and parsley and instead add a handful of the leaves, finely chopped, at the same time as the cooked cockles.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes




  • 500g spaghetti

  • 100ml cider

  • 1kg cockles, well rinsed

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • a good pinch of dried chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh chilli

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed

  • 150g butter, plus more as needed

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley


  1. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain, saving a little of the cooking liquid.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the cider in a large pan, add the cockles and cook over a medium heat with the lid on, shaking the pan every so often, for 3-5 minutes, until all the cockles are open.

  3. Drain over a bowl to catch the juices and leave to cool. Remove half the cockles from their shells and set all the cockles aside.

  4. Gently cook the shallot, garlic and chilli in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and the cockle cooking liquor, and toss with the spaghetti on a very low heat. Add the cockles and parsley, and season.

  5. The sauce should just coat the spaghetti – if it doesn’t, add a little of the pasta cooking water and more oil and butter. Serve immediately.