Spaghetti alla Nerano

Well guys, I have to do another post about pasta, because I just cannot help myself. It's summertime and zucchinis were all over my farmer's market this past weekend.  Zucchini always reminds me of Italy, where I lived for 9 months in 2006. Italians have so many different ways to eat zucchini, but one of my favorites is when it is used in the simple Spaghetti alla Nerano, a dish native to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast.

Spaghetti alla Nerano was born in the tiny fishing town of Nerano, nearby Sorrento in 1951.  What began as a peasant dish quickly became a staple in the region and I first tried it while traveling with my parents. We spent five days in Sorrento at an incredible hotel called the Parco dei Principi, which had a huge patio overlooking Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. We arrived late on our first night and even though the kitchen was closed, the chef agreed to whip up a quick pasta. 

And so we were introduced to Spaghetti alla Nerano, a pasta with only seven ingredients - zucchini, basil, olive oil, parmigiano reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. It is fresh, light, and quick to make.

Just a quick side note before I get to the recipe - the recipe is spaghetti alla Nerano, not fettuccine, which I used in my photo.  Fettuccine was my only option when I realized I had no spaghetti in the house. Oops. 

Spaghetti alla Nerano

- 4 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- 1/4 c. basil leaves (the more the better, really)
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/2 c. grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for serving
- salt and pepper to taste

Spaghetti alla Nerano takes a lot of basil,  luckily, my windowsill basil had gotten a little top-heavy.

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating up, thinly slice the zucchini with a mandoline or knife, and julienne the basil leaves.

2. Heat the olive oil and add in the zucchini. Sautee the zucchini for five minutes until it starts to soften.

3. Add the basil, some salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and continue to cook it for an additional 2-3 minutes. 

4. Once the water is boiling add in the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until its al dente. 

5. Drain the spaghetti and add it into the pan with the zucchini. Add the parmigiano reggiano, more black pepper, and serve.


  1. This sounds fantastic. I will definitely be trying it (about time the basil plant I've been gently cultivating gets used for something other than decoration). One general suggestion for cooking spaghetti though - lately I've been taking it out of the boiling water earlier than normal (after about 5 minutes) and finishing its cooking in whatever sauce I'm using. The results have been amazing.

  2. I remember that evening so well! I've never had this dish better than at the Parco de Principe. Can't wait to try your recipe which looks perfetto! Marcello