This particular Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe is basically spaghetti with zucchini. It features zucchini slices delicately fried in oil, creating a flavorful base. The zucchini is combined with a luscious sauce made of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, pine nuts, and fresh basil, resulting in a delectable flavor combination.
This Italian dish highlights the simplicity and elegance of fresh ingredients. The combination of fried zucchini, aromatic sauce, and al dente spaghetti creates a memorable culinary experience. It’s a delightful dish to savor and enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean.
What is Spaghetti alla Nerano
Spaghetti alla Nerano is a classic Italian pasta dish from the town of Nerano on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. It is a simple yet delicious recipe showcasing zucchini and cheese flavors.
Traditionally, the dish consists of spaghetti noodles tossed with fried zucchini, a sauce made with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil, and finished with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan on top.
The zucchini is thinly sliced and lightly fried until golden, creating a slightly crispy texture. The sauce combines olive oil, minced garlic, and fresh basil leaves, which are then tossed with the fried zucchini and cooked spaghetti.
Stanley Tucci’s Love of Spaghetti alla Nerano
Stanley Tucci, the famous actor and food lover, absolutely adores Pasta alla Nerano. He openly expresses his love for this dish, which captures the essence of Italian cuisine.
In interviews and TV appearances, Tucci raves about its simplicity and unique flavors that represent Campania perfectly. He even shares his recipe, emphasizing the importance of quality ingredients and proper cooking techniques.
Tucci’s genuine enthusiasm for Pasta alla Nerano showcases his deep appreciation for the wonderful food traditions of Italy. I love his show called “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” Tucci visits various cities and towns, meeting local chefs, farmers, and artisans to discover the authentic flavors and stories behind iconic Italian dishes. It is a must-see on Amazon Prime.
My Recipe Has a Surprising Twist!
Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the unique twist in my spaghetti alla Nerano recipe, where I’ve incorporated zucchini blossoms, introducing a delightful and subtle flavor that adds an element of fun to the dish.
Zucchini blossoms add a flavor that is reminiscent of mild squash or zucchini. And they have a delicate and slightly sweet flavor with subtle floral undertones.
When I can find them at our local Farmer’s Market, I like to add them for color.
How to Make Spaghetti with Zucchini
- Zucchini: Zucchini adds a mild, tender flavor and a satisfying crunch to the dish, acting as the base ingredient for the pasta.
- Zucchini Blossoms: The delicate zucchini blossoms provide a subtle floral essence and a visually appealing element to the dish, enhancing its overall presentation.
- Olive Oil: The rich and fruity olive oil serves as the primary cooking fat, imparting a smooth texture and delightful flavor to the pasta.
- Garlic: The aromatic garlic brings a savory and spicy taste, infusing the dish with its distinct aroma and adding a hint of boldness.
- Water: The addition of water helps create a light sauce that coats the pasta, ensuring that the flavors are evenly distributed and the dish remains moist.
- Red Chili Flakes: The red chili flakes introduce a touch of heat and spiciness, balancing out the other flavors and adding a subtle kick to the pasta.
- Pine Nuts: Pine nuts contribute a delicate crunch and a slightly nutty taste, complementing the other ingredients and providing textural variation.
- Linguini Noodles: The linguini noodles serve as the pasta base, offering a satisfying chewiness and serving as a canvas for the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Fresh Basil: The fragrant and aromatic fresh basil leaves lend a vibrant herbal note, brightening the dish with their refreshing taste and adding a pop of green color.
- Fresh Parmesan Cheese: The grated fresh parmesan cheese brings a rich and salty flavor, providing a creamy and umami element that enhances the overall taste profile of the pasta dish.
Step 1 – Prep Ingredients
Remove the pistils from the blossoms and coarsely chop the petals. Slice the zucchini into coin shapes.
Step 2 – Cook Pasta
Cook linguini noodles in a large pot of boiling water with salt. Cook until the noodles are al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce. Strain the rest of the water and rest noodles aside.
Step 3 – Fry Zucchini
Place the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add zucchini and fry it until it’s golden brown on both sides. Lower the heat and add blossoms and garlic. Simmer and cook until the blossoms are tender. Add water, chili flakes, pine nuts and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Next, add noodles, cheese, and basil and mix.
Step 4 – Serve
Plate pasta and top with extra fresh-cut basil and parmesan cheese if desired.
Spaghetti alla Nerano (Fried Zucchini with Spaghetti)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ lbs zucchini
- 4 zucchini flowers
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup pasta water
- ¾ lb linguini noodles
- 20 fresh basil leaves chiffonade them
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1½ tsp chili flakes
- Remove the pistils from the blossoms and coarsely chop the petals. Slice the zucchini into coin shapes.
- Cook linguini noodles in a large pot of boiling water with salt. Cook until the noodles are al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce. Strain the rest of the water and rest noodles aside.
- Place the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add zucchini and fry it until it’s golden brown on both sides. Lower the heat and add blossoms and garlic. Simmer and cook until the blossoms are tender. Add water, chili flakes, pine nuts and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Next, add noodles, cheese, and basil and mix.
- Plate pasta and top with extra fresh-cut basil and parmesan cheese if desired.
In the original recipe, Provolone del Monaco, a spicy semi-hard cheese from the Sorrento peninsula, is traditionally used; however, due to its protected designation of origin (DOP) status, it may be difficult or expensive to find outside of Italy. If Provolone del Monaco is unavailable, you can substitute it with another semi-hard provolone or caciocavallo cheese.
While Parmesan cheese is not the traditional choice for Zucchini alla Nerano, it can be used as a substitute if you cannot find Provolone del Monaco or other recommended cheeses. Parmesan cheese has a rich, nutty flavor that can complement the dish well.
Yes, that would work as well. But, when making the sauce, add about half the amount of olive oil to the noodles, zucchini, and other ingredients.
Nerano, a small coastal town on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, is commonly associated with the dish. It is believed to have been inspired by the local abundance of zucchini in the area, which led to the creation of this flavorful pasta recipe.
- Shrimp: Add succulent shrimp to the dish for a delightful seafood twist on the classic recipe.
- Lemon Zest: Incorporate fresh lemon zest to bring a refreshing citrusy note that brightens the dish’s flavors.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Introduce sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes to enhance the freshness and add vibrant color to the pasta.
- Pancetta: Include crispy pancetta to impart a savory and smoky element that complements the zucchini and enhances the overall richness of the dish.
- Ricotta: Mix in creamy ricotta cheese to create a luscious and indulgent sauce that coats the pasta strands, adding a velvety texture and subtle creaminess.
- Fresh Herbs: Incorporate a medley of fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, and oregano to infuse the dish with delightful flavors.
- To ensure even frying, it’s recommended to work in batches, frying the zucchini separately and preventing overcrowding and overlap in the pan.
- Opt for a large pan that offers ample space for stirring the pasta and other ingredients, allowing for better integration and distribution of flavors.
- Add everything in your pan, sauce, noodles, cheese, and basil, and mix thoroughly.
Some Dishes to Add to This Pasta Dinner
So do as the Italians, harvest your garden zucchini this summer, and make this wonderful fresh pasta dish. Indulge in the delectable flavors of spaghetti alla Nerano, a dish that tantalizes the taste buds with its perfectly fried zucchini, delicate blossoms, and rich, creamy cheese.
Photo Credits: MyPhotography.com