Karen’s Spaghetti alla Nerano: Zucchini & Pasta Lightened-Up
A total Ode to Stanley Tucci’s CNN “Searching for Italy” series which he shed light on this terrific dish in a hotel kitchen on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
I have ROASTED Zucchini instead of fried… and added lots to the final dish! Easy, economical and one you should master!
When the actor Stanley Tucci visited Nerano, a romantic little village on the Sorrento Peninsula, at the beginning of the Amalfi Coast, for the first episode of his hit CNN eating series “Searching for Italy,” he raised a regional zucchini dish to A-list culinary prominence and lured a steady stream of Americans to a local establishment called Lo Scoglio da Tommaso.
So here is my version: Lightened-Up!
- Zucchini is ROASTED NOT FRIED
- As much Zucchini as Pasta – 10 ounces of pasta / 4 cups roasted zucchini!
- Delicious mouthfeel and a robust taste!
Simple Ingredients ~ Simple Preparation
- Roast 6 medium zucchini, cut into thin wedges with a little extra virgin olive oils and some freshly ground pepper
- Cook 10 ounces of pasta until al dente (will get reheated.) Save 1 cup of the starchy pasta water!
- Sauté 1 T. olive oil with 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped garlic – then add half of the roasted zucchini, 1 cup pasta water, 1/2 of the grated reggiano parmesan cheese (1/4 cup), 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Stir until a creamy sauce has developed, then add the rest of the zucchini, parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup basil leaves
- Toss all together and enjoy! Makes 6 servings, or 4 very large bowls.
Besides Zucchini & Olive Oil – these are the ingredients to finish the dish.
Use Spaghetti, or Linguine as I did.
YES ~ you can use Gluten Free Pasta – I like good quality Italian brands; La Fabbrica della Pasta or Sanniti by Irollo Gluten Free.
– – Undercook the gluten free pasta – it will be rewarmed in the sauce (gluten free pasta will “break” more easily when cooked.)
Tinkering with the balance of ingredients, one chef told Tucci, was not the ultimate secret. He suspected that some chefs were burning the zucchini, a bit, to nudge more flavor out of the bland vegetable.
Its proper preparation demands greater attention to freshness and kitchen craftsmanship than to fancy ingredients. And the dish is noted for being very economical!
I’m using farm-fresh Green zucchini, Grey Zucchini (not really grey, but a lighter colored variety) and Golden Yellow Zucchini.
Use the varieties you like… they all do have different flavor profiles.
Roasting zucchini at a high temperature – 450 degrees, instead of baking or sautéing helps develop browning and a slight char on the outside, which keeps it from getting soggy.
Use any 12 – 14″ pan to combine all ingredients. I’m using a vintage 14″ enamel coated cast iron paella pan.
A simply wonderful dish created with so few ingredients, the secret is really in the quality of those ingredients and the technique used to make the creamy sauce that covers every strand of pasta!
Enjoy this special, easy & economical dish!
Let me know what you have made it!
Karen's Spaghetti alla Nerano: Zucchini & Pasta Lightened-Up
A total Ode to Stanley Tucci's CNN "Searching for Italy" series which he shed light on this terrific dish in a hotel kitchen on Italy's Amalfi Coast. I have ROASTED Zucchini instead of fried... and added lots to the final dish! Easy, economical and one you should master!
Servings: 6 servingsPrint Recipe Pin Recipe Rate this Recipe
- 6 medium zucchini about 5 1/2" long; green, grey and golden varieties
- 2 tablespoons extra divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 10 ounces spaghetti or linguine best quality
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh garlic coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup pasta water don't forget to save!
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter I use organic
- 4 ounces Parmesan Reggiano Cheese grated; 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup basil leaves washed, dried & packed
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Wash and dry zucchini; cut off ends. Cut each in three vertically. Cut each piece into 6 into wedges; all similar size (see photo.) Place them on two rimmed baking pans lined with parchment paper. Brush with ONE tablespoon of olive oil all over. Sprinkle evenly with pepper.
- Roast until very golden, but still a bit firm - 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool.
Finish the Dish:
- Cook pasta in boiling water with a pinch of salt until al dente (will reheat a bit later.) TAKE OUT 1 cup of pasta water before draining! Drain pasta, shake to remove excess water.
- In a large 12 - 14 inch pan add remaining one tablespoon of olive oil, set heat to low. Add the chopped garlic and cook just 3 minutes to soften, stirring.Add HALF of the zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup of pasta water, butter and Half parmesan cheese (1/4 cup) - Stir to create a creamy base.
- Final: add remaining zucchini, parmesan cheese and basil. Quickly stir up and serve! Taste for salt.
This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer