Cooking Le Marche Style: Vongole in Potacchio

Vongole in Potacchio |

Ciao, tutti! As I write this post, my brother and Mark are relaxing in the little village of Scapezzano, Italy – in the very house where my grandfather was born. And they are there for SIX.WEEKS!  So incredibly glad for them to be able to pull away from the daily grind back in LA and strengthen the roots with our dear Italian family.  As I write, they are in the village where our ancestors for so many generations roamed the very same streets, shopped in the very same port, and gazed out at the very same beautiful Adriatic sea.   So cool.

To avoid feeling completely left out back here in the US 🙂 , I made clams this weekend using a a traditional tasty style of cooking originating from Le Marche, which involves tomato, garlic, white wine and rosemary. Variations in the region include the additions of onions and in some cases, potatoes and can be used to prepare absolutely everything from chicken to fish to vegetables.

We have posted a few recipes using this preparation in the past. See these links:

Fresh Cod in Potacchio

Melanzane (Eggplant) in Potacchio

Antique Spoons |

So back to my family in Le Marche –  when I visited about 2 years ago, the view from the little village took my breath away. Gentle green rolling hills set to a backdrop of a sparkling baby blue sea.   When we arrived in Scapezzano, hugs and tears were exchanged as chairs were quickly pulled to the table; local wine was uncorked; and a feast fit for a king was unfurled. Conversation, even in our worst Italian, never stopped and I felt as if I had perhaps always been at this table, even though separated by an ocean.

So today wishing I too were in Le Marche with my brother, I decided to make clams ‘in potacchio’ which I find myself turning to time and time again. Its an incredibly simple preparation that lends itself to quick weeknight meals and surprise company. Once you have the ingredients down, you can give this a go on almost whatever meat, fish, or vegetable you may have on hand. This weekend I used clams that looked wonderfully fresh at the fishmongers; last week I changed things up a bit and used the ingredients to make a roasted chicken. A definite add to your weekly repertoire!

Vongole in Potacchio |

As I served my little clam dish, I too felt as if I were around that family table in Scapezzano.

Buon appetito. la famiglia!!



Vongole in Potacchio |

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Vongole in Potacchio

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A simple, quick and delicious recipe from the Marche region of Italy marrying clams, tomatoes, white wine and rosemary. Easy and tasty!


  • • About 2 dozen littleneck clams
  • • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, divided
  • • About 1 1/2 cups dry white wine, divided
  • • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • • 1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • • Freshly ground black pepper
  • • Crusty bread


  1. Soak the clams in cool water for about 20 minutes. Change the water a few times to remove as much sand as possible from the fresh clams. Drain.
  2. In a pan large enough to accommodate the clams, slowly heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with a clove of smashed garlic. Add in ½ cup of white wine and the clams. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the clams open, about 7 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Transfer the clams to a bowl. Pour the cooking liquid through a paper towel or cheesecloth into a small bowl. Wipe pan.
  3. In same pan over medium-low heat, add the remaining olive oil and garlic, any reserved cooking liquid and about 1 cup of wine. (Don’t be afraid – it is ok to add more if you want additional liquid.) Stir in the tomato paste until dissolved. Add the sprigs of rosemary and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the clams back in to the pot and simmer until warmed through. Serve with plenty of toasted bread to sop up all the delicious juices. Buon appetito!
  • Category: Easy Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian


Join the Conversation

  1. They look so good. Clams are my favorite seafood, thanks for the idea

    1. Michele Author says:

      Thanks for commenting, Keith! Grazie, Michele

  2. looks delicious. i haven’t ever made clams before but i sure love eating them. divine Xx

    1. Michele Author says:

      You should try cooking them – very easy and tasty too! Thanks for commenting Thalia! Michele

  3. Now I have to go get a snack. Unfortunately, I don’t have your excellent clam dish waiting for me in my kitchen…

    1. Michele Author says:

      Thanks Karen – hope you enjoyed your snack :-)!

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