Spaghetti alla Nerano

Spaghetti alla Nerano is the ultimate zucchini pasta. So simple to make but absolutely delicious, it’s the perfect way to celebrate in-season zucchini.

What is Spaghetti alla Nerano?

Spaghetti alla Nerano is an Italian pasta dish from Nerano, Italy. It’s a simple dish made with spaghetti, zucchini and traditionally, provolone cheese. I first saw this dish on Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy and fell in love. If you haven’t watched the show yet, it’s a must-see in my opinion, and this dish was the star of its episode. My Spaghetti alla nerano recipe is simplified slightly as the traditional way to cook this is to deep-fry the zucchini and allow it to rest overnight in the fridge. My version includes a sauté of the zucchini and making the sauce in the pan.

Ingredients

  • Zucchini/courgette.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil. Some recipes call for butter to add creaminess to the sauce along with olive oil but I don’t find it necessary. Feel free to add a knob of unsalted butter to the zucchini and pasta water before tossing with the pasta.
  • Fresh garlic cloves. 
  • Spaghetti. Any pasta shape will work but spaghetti is definitely my favorite here.
  • Reserved pasta water. This is very important and shouldn’t be skipped as the starchy cooking water emulsifies with the olive oil and cheese to create a creamy sauce.
  • Cheese. Traditionally Provolone del Monaco is used but Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese/Parmigiano Reggiano can be used as substitute.
  • Salt and black pepper. 
  • Basil, to serve. (optional)

How to make Spaghetti alla Nerano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large pan or skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the whole garlic cloves until golden brown to infuse the oil then remove the garlic. Add the thinly sliced zucchini and pan fry until tender, golden brown and starting to break apart. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water  while the zucchini cooks then drain once al dente and reserve 2 cups of cooking water. Stir a ladleful of pasta cooking water into the zucchini, breaking the fried zucchini slices up with the edge of a wooden spoon then add the drained spaghetti.

Add in the grated cheese and toss to coat the pasta in the creamy sauce that forms. You can add a splash of pasta water at a time until the sauce has a creamy texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve scattered with fresh basil leaves and a generous grating of cheese.

Can I make this ahead?

The pasta comes together relatively quickly and it’s definitely best served right after cooking. However, any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheated in a large pan with a splash of water.

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Spaghetti alla Nerano

Spaghetti alla Nerano

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Spaghetti alla Nerano, Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe, Stanley Tucci Spaghetti alla Nerano
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 492kcal
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14oz) zucchini thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves bruised
  • 1 cup grated cheese + more for serving Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano, Provolone
  • 500 g (1lb) spaghetti
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • In a large pan or skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  • Add the whole garlic cloves and cook until golden brown to infuse the oil then remove the garlic.
  • Add the thinly sliced zucchini and pan fry until tender, golden brown and starting to break apart.
  • Add the spaghetti to the boiling water while the zucchini cooks then drain once al dente and reserve 2 cups of cooking water.
  • Stir a ladleful of pasta cooking water into the zucchini, breaking the fried zucchini slices up with the edge of a wooden spoon then add the drained spaghetti.
  • Add in the grated cheese and toss to coat the pasta in the creamy sauce that forms.
  • You can add a splash of pasta water at a time until the sauce has a creamy texture.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve scattered with fresh basil leaves and a generous grating of cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 443mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 315mg | Iron: 1mg

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