Spaghetti alla Nerano Recipe (Pasta with Zucchini)

Spaghetti alla Nerano Recipe

When I heard about spaghetti alla nerano and how much it has been raved about, I knew I had to try it.

I’m a big fan of spaghetti and zucchini, and zucchini noodle spaghetti, so I knew I’d love it.

I just didn’t realize how delicious it would actually be! The creamy texture, garlic and basil flavors, and the bits of fried zucchini in every bite won me over.

This simple, beautiful pasta dish is certainly a must-try. Ideally, I’d love to try it in its place of origin, Ristorante da Maria Grazia. Alas, without any trips to Italy planned in the near future, I’ll have to settle for this delightful homemade version.

What is Spaghetti alla Nerano?

Spaghetti alla Nerano is a classic Italian pasta dish that originated in the small town of Nerano, located along the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. The dish is known for its deep-fried zucchini rounds tossed with spaghetti noodles and Provolone del Monaco cheese. The zucchini and cheese come together with fragrant garlic to make a savory, creamy sauce for the noodles. 

This pasta dish was made famous by actor Stanley Tucci in his series, Searching for Italy, in which he calls it “life-changing” and describes it as one of the best things he’s had in his life.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Simple: There’s just something amazing about pasta recipes that use very simple ingredients and taste incredible! If you like lemon pasta or cacio e pepe, you will love spaghetti alla nerano.

Creamy: With lots of rich extra virgin olive oil and melty cheeses, this pasta is creamy without being heavy. 

Easy: I love recipes with short ingredient lists and just a small time requirement. I can whip up a pot of this delicious pasta dish whenever I need a quick meal!



Spaghetti: Spaghetti is a classic, but it’s honestly my favorite type of noodle. If you prefer, you can substitute a different noodle, but the traditional recipe uses spaghetti.

Zucchini: The star of this pasta dish! You’ll want to use fresh zucchini (not frozen) for the best texture once fried.

Garlic: With so few ingredients, garlic adds a lot of the flavor to this savory dish. Don’t skimp on it!

Provolone Cheese: To make your spaghetti alla nerano the most authentic, try to use Provolone del Monaco. This artisan cheese makes the pasta the most delicious it can be. If you can’t find it, regular provolone will work.

Parmesan Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano makes all Italian recipes better. I like to add a little bit of extra grated cheese on top of my dish once it’s served. 

Olive Oil: Always use good-quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s especially important in this recipe as olive oil is the base of the sauce.

Tips for Making Spaghetti alla Nerano

  • Don’t let your olive oil get too hot. If it starts to smoke, the flavor will change and your kitchen will smell unpleasant. Watch the olive oil closely to make sure it isn’t getting too hot.
  • The smaller zucchini, the better. Smaller, more firm zucchinis will have the best texture for this recipe and won’t get a mushy center.
  • Only use fresh basil. Dried basil isn’t the same for this recipe, you need fresh basil leaves.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Provolone del Monaco? Is it different from regular provolone?

Provolone del Monaco is a semi-hard cheese produced in Campania, Italy. It is made with milk from raw Agerolese cows, which are endangered indigenous cows, making this cheese quite valuable. It is the cheese that is used in the original spaghetti alla nerano, so for the most authentic flavor, Provolone del Monaco should be used.

Can I use different oil for frying?

Olive oil is healthier and more flavorful than other frying oils, but can certainly substitute whichever oil you prefer. Just be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point, such as sunflower oil or avocado oil. 

Can I fry the zucchini slices in a deep fryer?

If you have a home deep fryer, you can absolutely fry your zucchini in that! This recipe uses pan frying as the method so that it’s more accessible for a home cook, but deep-fried zucchini will be a delicious and authentic addition to the recipe. Use whatever oil you usually deep-fry in.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Of course! Substitute your favorite gluten-free spaghetti noodles in this recipe if you like.

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Spaghetti alla Nerano Recipe

Spaghetti alla Nerano Recipe (Pasta with Zucchini)

  • Author: Tessa Bronner



8 ounces spaghetti noodles

3 small to medium zucchinis, sliced into thin rounds

3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup Provolone del Monaco, shredded

½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat about ½ inch of olive oil in a frying pan on the stove. Add the zucchini slices and fry until golden brown. 
  2. Remove the zucchini from the oil with a slotted spoon and lay them on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess oil.
  3. Bring a large pot of water, lightly salted, to a rolling boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, remove some of the olive oil from the pan, leaving just a thin layer. Add the minced garlic to the remaining oil and saute over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  5. Strain the pasta, reserving a ladleful of pasta cooking water. 
  6. Add the fried zucchini slices back into the pan with the garlic and olive oil. Add ¼ cup of pasta water and simmer for a couple of minutes. Use a spoon or spatula to gently mash some of the zucchini slices.
  7. Add the cooked pasta and grated cheese into the pan and toss the ingredients together. Continue cooking until the cheese melts and the pasta comes together. Add more pasta water and olive oil as needed to reach a smooth, creamy texture. 
  8. Add fresh basil leaves and season with salt and pepper before serving.

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