Spaghetti alle Vongole with Zucchini Flowers
Rafael Tonon, head chef at Mr Busby’s
This classic Italian dish made me fall in love with cooking when I was boy. I would wake at 3am to go to the fish market with my Uncle to buy the fresh clams. We would then watch my Nonna pull the dish together bit by bit for the whole family. It’s simple and full of flavour.
This is a very quick dish to prepare. My advice would be to have all ingredients measured and ready to go, you can then prepare the sauce as your pasta is cooking. Serves: 4
400g dried spaghetti
8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 long red chilli deseeded and finely sliced
1kg vngole (baby clams)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 zucchini flowers, stems sliced and flowers torn
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
75ml white wine
Salt and pepper
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Once boiling add spaghetti, mixing well to avoid pasta sticking together and cook to al dente following the package instructions.
2. Meanwhile, add to a cold large fry pan, half the olive oil, garlic and chilli then place on medium-high heat. Cook, stirring at all times until garlic is cooked through and just beginning to brown (approx 3 minutes) and then add zucchini stems, white wine and clams. Shake it well in the pan and place a lid on.
3. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes with the lid on, shaking pan until clams have opened. Take lid off and cook for another minute or so to slightly reduce pan liquids but not too long otherwise clams will toughen.
4. When pasta is ready, strain and add to clams as well as a little of your pasta cooking water. Take it off heat, add remaining olive oil, parsley and torn zucchini flowers and mix it well until all pasta is coated in the delicious clam juices and oil. Taste for seasoning.
5. Divide into 4 bowls and enjoy it with a nice glass of rosé, which is my favourite wine to pair with this pasta.
ABOUT THE CHEF
Born in Brazil with Italian lineage, Tonon was destined to share the rich culinary experience of his heritage. Growing up in a family of restaurateurs and chefs, his culinary career began early on, working alongside his Nonna in the kitchen as a boy making traditional pasta from scratch. He loves to join family and friends to prepare large feasts and share meals.
WIN LUNCH FOR YOU AND TWO FRIENDS
Weekender is giving away a weekly prize to one lucky reader to coincide with our month-long recipe series from Mr Busby’s head chef Rafael Tonon.
Mr Busby’s, at Dalwood Estate, is a Brazilian-inspired, family-friendly restaurant offering a leisurely lunch or breakfast. Everything is made from scratch using seasonal, local produce and quality ingredients carefully selected by Tonon.
The Brazilian-born-chef has called Australia home for the past 16 years and has worked at some of our most celebrated restaurants. Most recently, he was the executive chef at the Publica Group in Sydney. He’s also worked under Pete Evans at Hugo’s; for well-known Italian chef Massimo Mele’s catering business; and had brief stints at Sydney restaurants Fei Jei (Cantonese) and Barrio Chino (Mexican).
Taking its cue from its sister restaurant, MEET in Newcastle, meat at Mr Busby’s is slow-cooked over aromatic wood and charcoal on the kitchen’s bespoke barbecue rotisserie. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
Week two’s giveaway is lunch for you and two friends at Mr Busby’s, located at the historic Dalwood Estate on the banks of the picturesque Hunter River. To enter, send the word “Lunch” to firstname.lastname@example.org or text “Lunch” to 0427 369 610, including your name, address and phone number. Entries close at 9am on Wednesday (December 12).