Zesty Lemon Pasta with Rocket and Clams

Here’s a recipe to really fire up your taste buds. Being light and tangy its also perfect for summer. I first ate a version of this in an out of the way resturant in Amalfi. When we asked the Tourist Information office by the beach how to reach the restaurant she looked dubious and told me it was quite a hike up the hill. Certainly an exaggeration, but we did leave behind all the trinket shops and over-priced bars before reaching it, and found ourselves in a peaceful street quiet enough you could hear the water, which once fed several mills, gushing below the road.


Being Amalfi, I was determined to try everything with a hint of lemon. Before lunch we stopped at an exquisitely arranged greengrocer’s, more like an art exhibition, and I asked the owner about the mythical Amalfi lemon. She choose a knobbly, unendearing fruit from the pile, plunged her nail into the skin and held it out to me. The sweet, aromatic scent oozing out was worlds away from our bitter options in Britain.


You would assume a combination of sour lemons and bitter rocket would have you wincing unattractively throughout lunch, but the delicate sweetness of the Amalfi lemon ensures the flavours don’t overwhelm.

Ingredients: (for 4)

600g pasta (what is this nonsense about 100g per person?!) – I like using linguine but the restaurant in Amalfi used calamarata, the traditional pasta for this dish.

1 Amalfi lemon cut into julienne strips

Rocket leaves

1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed

10-15 clams per person

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black pepper to taste

A lot of parmeggiano


While the pasta is boiling (with a little salt in the water) gently fry almost all the lemon strips and crushed garlic in olive oil (in a large pan) for about 30 seconds, don’t let the garlic go brown! Add the clams, cover the pan and cook over a low heat until they open. Make a bed of rocket leaves on each plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmeggiano.

Once the pasta is ready, drain and place into the pan of clams. Heat and mix thoroughly. Add a pinch black pepper if you wish. Divide between the plates, sprinkle over the remaining lemon strips and add a healthy helping of parmeggiano and more oil if needed. Buon appetito!


3 thoughts on “Zesty Lemon Pasta with Rocket and Clams

  1. What should those of us not living in sunny Amalfi do about the quantity of lemon we use? Here in Brooklyn they’re small and very sour. Do we add some sugar or something to cut the bitterness? Also, do you think a clam-free version of this recipe can be created for vegetarians? I like the possibilities but not being adept in the kitchen need some guidance. Thanks!


    1. Hi, I actually tried this dish one time with a non-Amalfi lemon and just used a little less so you still get the lemon essence but not the bitterness. However in a city you’ll probably be able to find Amalfi lemons if you scout around, they are pretty widely exported now. And yes I’ve done the clam free version too when I need to save money and it’s still pretty yummy! You don’t need to change any other ingredients.

      Liked by 1 person

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