Spaghetti alla Nerano is a delicious pasta recipe made with lightly fried zucchini in a rich creamy, cheese sauce from Campania, Italy.
Spaghetti alla Nerano is a perfect summer dish and a great way to enjoy zucchini season.
Zucchini go very well with pasta as they develop a delicate sweet flavour that becomes richer as they cook and begin to caramelise.
The original recipe for Spaghetti alla Nerano was created by the Maria Grazia restaurant in 1952, in Nerano, Campania in Italy. You may know it as the Stanley Tucci zucchini pasta recipe which he says is one of the best things he’s ever eaten.
Although the restaurant still exists today there are many other restaurants in the area now serving this exquisite dish made with delicious zucchini grown in the rich volcanic soil of the area.
To try this recipe for Spaghetti alla Nerano at home you’ll need 3-4 medium size fresh zucchini and you probably already have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry.
If you happen to have a glut of zucchini or you love zucchini dishes then you may like to try our zucchini frittata, this zucchini and comté cheese tart and if need something sweet, our very popular zucchini banana bread.
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About the ingredients
Some information on the ingredients:
- zucchini – choose small to medium size for best flavour , large zucchini have higher water content so they take longer to cook and are slightly bitter.
- olive oil – as zucchini have a mild flavour and take on flavours of whatever they are cooked with, any other oil may give a slightly funky flavour to the dish
- cheeses – you could use only a medium sharp Provolone but adding Parmigiano Reggiano gives more flavour, otherwise caciocavallo or a mature Comté cheese would work too.
See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions with helpful tips.
Wash and pat dry the zucchini, then cut into thin slices for quick frying.
Lightly fry the zucchini on either side till golden brown then place on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
Set zucchini aside and boil pasta in salted boiling water for a minute less than the time mentioned on the pasta packaging. Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water to make the creamy sauce.
Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet till garlic begins to turn pale gold, then add fried zucchini and reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil, mix in butter and season.
Pro tip: Use the spiky star-shaped side of the grater when grating the cheeses so they melt easily and evenly coat the pasta.
Add the drained spaghetti to the zucchini mixture then mix in the grated cheese so it melts creating a cheesy coating, then serve immediately.
Hint: Pasta does not absorb much salt when boiled in salted water but if you are watching your sodium intake you may need to adjust the amount of salt added to the zucchini or reduce the amount of cheese.
Make ahead and storing
Zucchini can be fried in advance, then cooled and kept in a closed container in the fridge for up to 3 days before using.
Note: Pasta always tastes best when freshly made before serving so we don’t advise cooking the pasta in advance.
Store leftover pasta in a closed container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Bring to room temperature or reheat in a saucepan with a small amount of water before serving.
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Spaghetti Alla Nerano
- 400 g spaghetti 14 oz.
- 800 g zucchini 4 medium size or 28 oz.
- 120 ml olive oil ½ cup for frying zucchini, use more if necessary
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic medium, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust according taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 100 g Provolone cheese 1 cup, freshly grated*
- 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 1 cup, freshly grated*
- 5 fresh basil leaves (optional) to garnish
- Wash and pat dry 800 g zucchini then cut into thin slices.
- Heat 120 ml olive oil in a heavy bottom/iron skillet and lightly fry zucchini slices on either side till golden. Fry them in batches transferring the fried zucchini to a kitchen towel to drain excess oil.
- Boil 400 g spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water (stirring occasionally), for 1 minute less than cooking time advised on the pasta packaging. Drain the pasta reserving around 240ml/1 cup pasta water for the zucchini sauce.
- In the same skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cloves garlic till garlic turns pale gold, then add the fried zucchini and reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil then mix in 2 tablespoons butter and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss well with zucchini sauce on low heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in 100 g Provolone cheese and 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Mix well till the cheese melts making a cheesy sauce then garnish with 5 fresh basil leaves (optional) and serve immediately.
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Nutritional information is calculated automatically and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information above is an estimate per serving.
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