Rosa Pirillo, now retired, served as the minister of culture in Rossano Calabro, a seaside town on the Ionian side of the Calabrian peninsula. Her recipe is a Calabrese take on the classic dish of spaghetti and clams, incorporating cherry tomatoes and a good dose of chile.
- Wash the clams thoroughly in lightly salted water, then rinse with fresh water. Place them in a dry sauté pan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When they have all opened, remove the clams from the shells and place them in a separate bowl.
- Remove the shells from the pan and dispose or save for a stock. Take the liquid remaining in the pan and pour it through a very fine sieve into the bowl with the clams. Set a large pot of water to boil and add the pasta along with a large handful of salt. Rinse and dry the sauté pan and add olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Over high heat, toast the garlic whole, then remove the clove once it has browned.
- Add the tomatoes and allow them to release their liquid and concentrate for 1-2 minutes. Remove any skins that release from the flesh. Add the clams with their filtered liquid. Pull the pasta out of the pot with tongs (allowing it to hold some water) well before it is done (3-4 minutes in advance of suggested cook time), and add it to the hot pan with the olive oil, clams, and their liquid.
- Allow the pasta to finish cooking together with the clams and olive oil. In a final toss, add a handful of fresh parsley, a sprinkle of sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a whole Calabrian chile (be careful not to break it open or the heat may become too overwhelming, and someone might get a mouthful of chile). Serve with extra chiles for anyone who desires more heat.