Greek clams (cockles) recipe with pasta

Hi All! Today I am sharing a recipe for clams with pasta and white wine. Clams is how they are called in the States, as I understand. Their name is ‘cockles’ in the UK and ‘kedonia’ in Greece. Whatever you call them, they taste just as delicious! For the recipe I share, you can use any other type of clam or oyster of similar size.

I was offered this batch here in Greece by a friend of my father’s who harvests seafood from the local shore. I’ve always had clams raw with a splash of lemon juice and bread. When I was a kid, my father was forever opening them for me with a knife and putting them on my plate saying, ‘Add plenty of lemon! It’ll kill the germs!’ It’s so embedded in my head by now I could never have them raw without the lemon haha. Actually, I suspect there’s truth in this as well!

Anyway, I decided to try something different with this batch, and I am glad I did because I found this wonderful Italian recipe which has now become my favorite pasta meal.

The recipe I share today is a variation from that basic Italian one – not so much in the ingredients but more on the preparation side. Interestingly enough, the Italians call this type of clams ‘Tartufi di Mare’, which means ‘Truffles of the Sea’ and I think it goes to show how they appreciate their exquisite taste.

I still think they taste the best when eaten raw, but I have to admit this meal is exceptional. The clams make the pasta taste as if it’s coated in butter. Unmissable!


clams (500-750gr)

1 garlic clove cut in half

30 ml white wine (1 small shot glass)

6-8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

a small piece of chilli pepper or a generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper


Linguini pasta or spaghetti (about 100gr per person)

A small piece of cotton wool (for sieving out sand from the liquid in the pot after steaming)


Wash clams under the tap and put them in a bowl of well-salted water (to imitate sea water). Leave for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. Sand will be released to stay at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse clams. Throw away any that are open and don’t close when you force them to.

Flatten a piece of cotton wool and use it to line a small tea strainer. Put it on top of a small bowl and leave aside.

Fil the kettle with hot water.

Place the wine and just a splash of hot water in a pot and cover (the clams should steam, not be immersed in a lot of liquid or they will turn hard). When it starts to simmer, add clams and close lid. Let simmer and stir from time to time until they are fully open. Switch off when this happens. May be 2 minutes or even 5. Don’t let them steam for more than 8 minutes.

Strain the clams with a big bowl underneath to collect the liquid.

Rinse the pot under the tap to remove any remaining sand and put clams back in. Set aside.

Now strain the liquid from the big bowl into the smaller one, straining it through the cotton wool carefully. Stop before you get to the sand at the bottom of the bowl.

Quickly look through the clams. Throw away any that haven’t opened. If you can see specks of sand in the clams, add hot or tepid water from the kettle into the pot, stir with a spoon quickly and strain the liquid to remove any remaining sand.

Now, look through the clams again, this time removing all the shells that are empty. If you have too many shells left, remove the flesh from a few so that you have about half shells with flesh and half shells discarded. This is so the meal is not too crowded with shells on the plate. Just a few will do to add visual pleasure to the meal 🙂

Fry the chilli and the garlic in the oil for 3 minutes.

While you fry, start boiling the pasta in salted water in a pot.

Remove the garlic. If the oil is too hot, switch off for a while to add the liquid inside. Add cayenne pepper now, if using instead of chilli. Turn up heat to reduce the water somewhat. If the pasta is not ready, remove the oil from heat for now.

When the pasta is almost ready (al dente), use the special kitchen utensil for pasta to pick it up bit by bit and put it into the oil mixture. This will ensure that starchy water from the pot is transferred at the same time. If you don’t have the utensil for pasta available, strain the pasta but collect the water in a bowl underneath!

Add the clams to the pasta mix, add parsley and black pepper. Mix well. Add more pasta water as needed. Serve immediately with a green salad. Add black pepper on top as needed.


In this picture, you can see a variation where I added a bit of turmeric, some cut up green pepper and 2 chopped tomatillos when I fried the garlic in the oil. The result was super-colorful and equally delicious.

Hungry for more? Browse through all my recipes here:

Do you love Greek food? My fantasy romance set in Corfu will make you feel ravenous! And, chances are, you’ll get a thrill or two! Available in paperback, in a kindle box set, or in individual episodes. Check it out:

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