Spaghetti alle Vongole

Quick, easy and one of the most delicious pasta dishes outside of a good pesto. Afterwards, just sit back and enjoy a crisp Pinto Grigio or Rose like you're sitting seaside on the Almafi coast.  

The clams are the star of this dish, but co-starring is the garlic. You may also call this dish 'Aglio con Spaghetti alle Vongole.'  I've cooked this recipe for years using the sweetness of caramelized garlic, which adds a nice component to this dish. Yes, my family in Italy is shaking their heads right now as they cook with a very little amount of garlic. Go figure? But here in the US we've become accustomed to big flavors in our dishes. So get out my old recipe for caramelized garlic and make a half dozen heads, I guarantee you won't have any left. 


Spaghetti alle Vongole recipe by George Hirsch

makes 4-6 servings | George Hirsch Lifestyle from Know Your Fire Cookbook

1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 heads caramelized garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed well

1 cup dry white wine 

Juice of 1 lemon

4 Tablespoons sweet butter

Freshly ground black pepper

4 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, rough chopped

Optional: 1/4 cup lightly toasted bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to toss the spaghetti directly into the sauce.

Pre heat a deep side saute pan or dutch oven; add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes; saute for 1 minute. Add the clams, wine, half the parsley and lemon juice. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the clams are opened, about 5 - 8 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.

Increase heat to medium temperature add the hot, drained linguine to the pan; add the butter and season with pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams to coat pasta with clam sauce. Top with chopped parsley, basil and toasted bread crumbs. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve immediately.

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Bologna Inspired

The cold weather is about to enter into the low digits; so light a roaring fire in the fireplace and keep the big soup pot at the ready. You could make my Baked Potato Soup as a quick way to warm up. Or, how about cooking-up a brothy and hearty tortellini soup. (The tortellini originates from the north-cental part of Italy). Serve with my Fennel & Green Bean Salad and Homemade Biscuits for a complete meal. 

BTW--To answer a much often asked viewer question about my TV show; yes, 100% of my recipes are cooked on air and are eaten by my TV crew. Hey, it’s part of their job!


Tortellini Basil Soup | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

8 cloves caramelized garlic

1 cup canned San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped

4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1 quarter cup fresh spinach leaves, shredded

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8 ounces cheese tortellini

1 cup small white beans, cooked or canned

Pinch nutmeg

Grated parmesan cheese to taste

Fresh ground black pepper

Pre heat a medium soup pot to medium temperature.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add tortellini, spinach, basil, and white beans. Simmer until tortellinis are al dente and season with nutmeg, pepper. Add parmesan cheese to taste. Serve with a basil leaf on top. 

NOTE: This recipe requires a good quality tortellini if you are cooking the pasta in the broth. A lesser quality tortellini will make the soup starchy. If you are not sure of the quality, cook the tortellini separately and add pasta to the soup right before serving. 

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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A Good Family Member

Garlic, did you know, it's part of the onion family? And its cousins include shallots, leeks and chives. The inclusion of raw garlic into your diet can have beneficial antioxidant effects. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging free radicals (not the people). The medicinal properties and benefits of garlic are strongest when it is raw and crushed or very finely chopped. Garlic makes a good health supplement combined with sensible eating and appropriate exercise. Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting something new; regarding any change to your diet or medical condition.


What I eat today is very important, because each day of my life depends on it. - George Hirsch


Caramelized Garlic

Makes six heads | From George Hirsch Lifestyle

6 heads fresh garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

one 12‑inch square aluminum foil

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.

Lay each garlic head on its side and cut off 1/4 inch from the bottom or root end, exposing the garlic cloves. Brush with olive oil.  

Place the heads, exposed end down, in a single layer in an ovenproof pan.   Roast in a 325 degree oven 10-15 minutes or until light brown.  Cover with aluminum foil and roast 8-10 minutes longer, or until creamy.

Allow garlic to cool and remove cloves from head as needed.  Garlic may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several days.  

To puree, crush garlic cloves with the flat of a knife. 

RECIPE: No Yolk Caesar Salad Dressing 

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Gameday Dip

Hummus might just be the "original dip". Versions of it date back to biblical times. Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, were plentiful in Southeast Turkey—thought to be the place of the chickpeas origin. Hummus has made itself into a household name..not so widely known when I first became a chef. 

The Chickpea, as it known around the world: Bengal gram (Indian), Chickpea (English), Garbanzo (Latin America), Hommes, Hamaz (Arab world), Nohud, Lablabi (Turkey), Shimbra (Ethiopia)

Whether you are rooting for New York or New England this dip will make the fans happy!

BTW- Tahini, included in my Hummus Recipe is a paste made from sesame seeds and is a good source of zinc and calcium.

George's Hummus 

makes four servings | Recipe by Chef George Hirsch 

Serve as a dip or spread. Either way, it's a great healthy way to snack!

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3 cloves Caramelized Garlic (get this recipe)
1 Tablespoon tahini paste (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 Tablespoons plain lowfat yogurt

Puree chickpeas in a food processor. Add garlic, tahini, cumin, hot sauce, lemon, and yogurt. Mix all ingredients well. Allow to set for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Serve with toasted pita and raw vegetables.

MORE DIP: Caramelized Garlic and Tomato Dip

Black Garlic

That's right, black garlic - not to be confused with my signature honey-colored caramelized garlic. But I predict it won't be long before this too becomes a common ingredient in every gourmand's kitchen. Garlic has been commonly used for centuries in the Far East in foods and also for its health benefits and medicinal properties. As for black garlic in its concentrated state; does this mean a higher concentration of antioxidants and benefits? Maybe so, the verdict is still out. But in terms of culinary seasoning, think concentrated or "reduction" version of caramelized garlic. The result is a complexity of mellow molasses meets rich sweetness, like a balsamic reduction. 

Tip: Black garlic is an excellent seasoning to add to porcini mushroom risotto.

Unfortunately this is something we can not replicate at home. It's a 30 day fermentation process requiring a specially made oven. Available from BlackGarlic