A dish of spaghetti with clams and a piece of bread on a dark wooden surface
Photography, Clinton Hussey

Spaghetti With Clams

Chef David Hawksworth shares the recipe for one of Nightingale restaurant's most popular dishes.

For this Nightingale dish, we always use fresh spaghetti and BC Manila clams poached in fragrant clam stock. And we use fresh jalapeno, not chili flakes, because I like the way the heat hits you farther back in the throat. We finish it with lots of lemon juice and butter and keep it loose. Spaghetti, clams, white wine and clam nectar all go so incredibly well together. No other dish has stayed on the menu as long as this one.
–David Hawskworth

A dish of spaghetti with clams and a piece of bread on a dark wooden surface

Clam Spaghetti

Vancouver chef David Hawksworth's recipe for spaghetti with clams in a white wine sauce.
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Canadian, Italian
Servings 6


Clam Stock

  • olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 12 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small can (295 mL/10 oz) clam juice
  • 3 bay leaves

Clam Spaghetti

  • 14 oz (400 g) good-quality fresh or dry spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic fin ly chopped
  • 1 lb (about 30) Manila or littleneck clams see note
  • ½ cup butter
  • pinch dried red chili flakes
  • ¼ bunch parsley chiffonade
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 3 scallions finely sliced
  • ½ small jalapeno halved and finely diced
  • Salt


Clam Stock

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sweat the fennel, onions and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 12 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Add the clam juice and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids. Set aside the stock.

Clam Spaghetti

  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the garlic and sweat for 1 minute. Add the clams and some of the clam stock (you may not require all of it, depending how saucy you like your pasta), and cover immediately. Keep covered until the clams are fully open, 3 to 4 minutes; discard any that remain closed. Add the cooked spaghetti, butter and chili flakes and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust with more clam stock if needed. Add the parsley, lemon juice, scallions and jalapeno and toss well to combine. Season with salt as needed and serve.


Always make sure to choose very fresh clams and "purge" them to get rid of all possible sand: flush them in ice-cold salted water (2 tbsp salt per 4 cups), changing the solution two or three times during the process.

A cookbook cover in a light frame

Excerpted from Hawksworth by David Hawksworth, Jacob Richler and Stéphanie Nöel. Copyright © 2020 David Hawksworth. Photography by Clinton Hussey. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.



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