Vongole shells “a la marinera”

Chirlas a la marinera 5
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Chirlas a la marinera is a traditional Spanish dish that is popular for its simple but tasty preparation. Served mainly on the coast of Spain, this dish uses fresh chirlas (small clams, vongole) and a rich, aromatic sauce typical of Spanish cuisine.

Ingredients and Preparation
The main ingredients for chirlas a la marinera are fresh chirlas, olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, white wine, parsley and various spices. Preparation begins with sautéing garlic and onion in olive oil, followed by adding tomatoes and white wine. The chirlas are then added to the sauce and cooked until they open, absorbing the flavors of the sauce. The finishing with fresh parsley gives the dish a fresh and spicy touch.

Taste and Serving Options
Vongole shells a la marinera is known for its delicate and refined taste, in which the natural saltiness of the shells is perfectly balanced with the rich, savory sauce. The dish is often served as a tapa or starter, but can also be part of a main meal, served with fresh bread to dip up the delicious sauce.

Health and Nutrition
In addition to their delicious taste, chirlas are also a healthy choice. They are rich in protein, low in fat and contain important minerals such as iron and zinc. This makes chirlas a la marinera not only a pleasure for the taste buds, but also a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.

Try it yourself and discover why this dish is a favorite among locals and tourists alike in Spain.

Vongole shells “a la marinera”
Chirlas a la marinera 5 scaled
Simple, quick, tasty and a typical Spanish dish. In short, the sea on your plate.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side dish, Starter, Main dish
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 4 persons
Calories 182 kcal


  • deep pan


  • 1 kg vongole or small clams
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 70 ml white wine
  • 1 tbl spoon flour optional
  • 3 tbl spoon passata
  • 2 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon spicy paprika powder
  • 2 tbl spoon leaf parsley fresh shopped
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper optional


  • Rinse the shells in cold water and let them stand in ice-cold water for 1 hour. This is how they release the sand.
  • Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and chop the parsley.
  • Put the oil in a deep pan and when it is hot, fry the onion and garlic. When the onion becomes translucent, add the diced tomatoes. Fry and stir until completely cooked. Optionally, you can add a spoonful of flour, this is to thicken the sauce afterwards, but I don't add it myself.
  • Deglaze with the white wine and let it reduce briefly. Then add the passata and the sweet and spicy paprika powder. Stir everything together well. When it simmers slightly, remove the shells from the water and add them to the tomato sauce. Stir well, put a lid on the pan and let it simmer gently for 3 minutes. Then stir them together again. Most of the shells should already be open. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over it. Place the lid on the pan again and let it simmer for another 2 minutes.
  • Now all the vongole shells should be open. I don't add salt anymore because the water released from the shells already contains salt. I like to make it spicy and then I season it with some white pepper.
  • Serve with fresh bread and a slice of lemon.


Vongole or “Shells a la marinera” is a wonderful example of simple but tasty Spanish cuisine.
The main ingredients for “chirlas a la marinera” are fresh shells such as vongole, olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, white wine, parsley and various spices.
I make this dish both in summer and winter, often as a starter. Sometimes it is the base of a more elaborate dish when I add squid rings. Be sure to provide plenty of bread because there is nothing as tasty as dipping your bread in the sauce. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it…
Try it yourself and discover why this dish is a favorite among locals and tourists alike in Spain.


Calories: 182kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 7gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 32mgPotassium: 317mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1518IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg
Keyword vongole, recipe with vongole, clams in tomato sauce, vongole with tomato sauce, typical spanish dish, clams a la marinera, shellfish recipe
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I am Patricia, energetic 40'er, architect, business manager and food blogger. Living in Andalusia but from Flanders - Belgium. Mother of 2 active and creative kids who, together with my husband Geert, form the tasting team of the first order!
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