Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe, mama disrupt

Recipe of the week: Spaghetti alla Nerano

In Features, Nourish, Stories by Nicole Fuge

Love a meal that tastes (and sounds) like it took loads of time and effort, but it’s actually pretty easy? This Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe is for you.

By Danielle Alvarez with Libby Travers

Nerano is a small village on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. This dish is thought to have been created by a woman named Maria Grazia (in her restaurant there, which bears her name) and although the original recipe is not known, this is my best distillation.

The original dish uses Provolone del Monaco, a local cheese that can be hard to find outside of the area. Parmigiano Reggiano isn’t totally correct but it’s still delicious. This is a perfect summer pasta and makes great use of a glut of zucchini (courgette).

Makes: Enough to serve 4


6 small zucchinis (courgettes) (about 400–500 g/ 14 oz–1 lb 2 oz)
½ cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
400 g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
3 garlic cloves, minced
50 g (1¾ oz) unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 cups (60 g) basil leaves (about 1 bunch), loosely packed, plus extra to garnish
Fine sea salt

To finish

Parmigiano Reggiano, for grating
Freshly cracked black pepper
Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

  1. Slice the zucchini into very thin rounds using a mandoline (or a very sharp knife).
  2. Heat a large pan over a medium–high heat. Add the olive oil and when it’s hot, add in a third of the zucchini slices. Fry until they are lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Use a skimmer or spoon to scoop them out onto a plate. Fry the remaining zucchini in another two batches and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in your spaghetti and cook until al dente.
  4. Pour out half the olive oil used to fry the zucchini and save it for another use. Return the pan to a medium heat and add the garlic, letting it sizzle until it becomes fragrant. Add in the fried zucchini and scoop a ladleful of the pasta water into the pan. Stir and crush the zucchini so that some pieces break down and some remain intact.
  5. Reserve a mug of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the pasta to the zucchini pan and stir in half of the reserved water. Turn the heat to high. When the liquid is almost completely reduced, turn the heat down to low and add in the butter, parmesan and basil. Toss vigorously, using a wooden spoon or tongs, to combine and create a creamy sauce. Add more of the pasta water as needed. Taste the pasta for seasoning and adjust with salt.
  6. Divide the pasta between four bowls and top with more grated parmesan, the extra basil leaves, pepper and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil. Serve with wedges of lemon.

Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking, Mama Disrupt

Images and text from Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking by Danielle Alvarez with Libby Travers, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.

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