This summer our family returned to Italy. We ventured to the Amalfi coast and stayed in the beautiful town of Positano. From Positano we took several day trips to the town of Amalfi, Ravello, and to the Island of Capri. It was during our boat trip to Capri that the captain pointed to the beaches of the town of Nerano and said that the famous pasta dish, Spaghetti alla Nerano, originated there. After circling the Island of Capri we were dropped off at the Marina Grande and from there we walked uphill to the city center of Capri. After our exhausting hike we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Al Capri Don Alfonso Café. I had the famous Spaghetti alla Nerano, a spaghetti served with a simple yet delicious zucchini sauce. It was so delicious that we were determined to replicate this dish at home.
Spaghetti alla Nerano – Spaghetti with Zucchini Recipe
- 1 garlic clove (use 2 cloves if they are small) – minced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 lbs. of zucchini (about 4 – 6 small zucchini)
- 4 ½ to 6 oz. of Italian Provolone cheese grated. Note: Make sure it is aged hard Italian provolone cheese. Do not use soft deli provolone cheese. If you cannot find Italian Provolone substitute with Italian aged Parmesan.The amount of cheese is up to you. Our family prefers the recipe with the lower amount of cheese.
- Italian grated Parmesan cheese for topping.
- 1 lb. of Spaghetti
- 1 Tbs. butter
- A handful of fresh Basil julienned
- Salt and Pepper
- Thinly slice the zucchini using a mandoline.
- Start boiling water for the pasta. Make sure to generously salt the water when it comes to a boil.
- Add the olive oil to a separate large pot. Warm the oil and add the garlic. Allow the garlic to release flavors into the oil but do not let the garlic brown. Remove garlic from the oil and set aside.
- Add the sliced zucchini to the oil in layers, salting each layer separately. Sauté the zucchini until it cooks down completely.
- Cook the spaghetti for the suggested cooking time. We cook ours 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time because we really enjoy pasta al dente. Remember to save about 2 cups of pasta cooking water that will be used later.
- Separate the cooked zucchini into thirds.
- Combine the blended zucchini with the rest of the zucchini and add the sautéed garlic.
- When the spaghetti is done cooking remember to save about 2 cups of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
- Return the spaghetti to the pot with the zucchini mix. Remove from heat. Add the cheese and the butter and mix vigorously to create an emulsion. You will want a silky sauce. If it is too dry then add more pasta water as necessary. Top with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.
Note: Some recipes do not call for blending the 1/3 of the cooked zucchini. That is entirely up to you. I like the thicker sauce that the blended zucchini makes.