small clams 1kg, such as palourdes
olive oil 2 x 15ml tbsp
echalion or banana shallot 1, peeled and finely chopped
garlic cloves 2, peeled
dried chilli flakes ½ tsp
tomato puree 1 x 15ml tbsp
light chicken stock 750ml (made up with less powder or concentrate to water than usual)
dry red vermouth 60ml
parsley 3 x 15ml tbsp, plus more for sprinkling, chopped
Soak the clams in a large bowl of cold water, and sort through them, discarding any shells that remain open or are cracked or smashed.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan that comes with a lid, then add the chopped shallot, stirring for a minute, grate in (or mince and add) the garlic, and add the chilli flakes, stirring again over the heat so that it sizzles, though not long enough to let the garlic brown.
Stir in the tomato puree, then add the stock and the vermouth and let it come to the boil.
Add the fregola – it should be covered completely by the liquid – and let it simmer, still uncovered, for 10-12 minutes (or as instructed on the fregola packet).
Check that the fregola is nearly ready and then add the drained clams, and cover the pan with the lid. Leave to cook for 3 minutes at a fast simmer, then uncover the pan to check that the clams have opened. Any clams that, once cooked, stay closed should be discarded.
Sprinkle in the chopped parsley and stir to let everything combine before ladling into 4 warmed bowls to serve, sprinkling with a little more chopped parsley as you go.