Ditalini pasta with clams and chickpeas, cooked risotto-style

Small pasta varieties, like ditalini, makes an ideal substitute for rice in risottos. This rustic dish sees the pasta mixed with chickpeas and baby clams that have been infused with garlic, parsley, chilli and white wine.







  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2cloves garlic, 1 finely chopped, 1 left whole, skin removed and bashed with the back of your hand
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley stalks (use the tender middle bit, closer to the leaves)
  • 1small chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 1 kg vongole
  • 350 g ditalini pasta
  • salt flakes
  • 400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Fill your kettle with water and turn it on to boil.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan (with a lid) over low–medium heat, add both cloves of garlic, the parsley stalks and chilli (if using) and cook for 1 minute or until the garlic starts to turn golden. Pour in the wine, then increase the heat to medium–high to cook out the alcohol for 1–2 minutes.
  3. Add the vongole, cover with a fitted lid and steam for 2–4 minutes to open the shells. As soon as they open, remove them with a slotted spoon to avoid over cooking them. Set aside. Add the pasta to the pan, season it with a pinch of salt and then pour in enough water from the kettle to cover it. Boil the pasta for 3–4 minutes, then add the chickpeas and more water so the pasta is fully covered and cook, stirring regularly, for a further 3–4 minutes or until perfectly al dente.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, take half the vongole out of their shells. Discard the empty shells.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and return the vongole and any juices they have released to the pan. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly, then top with parsley leaves and serve hot.



  • This dish will work beautifully even if your taste in music is more refined than mine and my brother’s.


Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.