The Original Zucchini Pasta: Spaghetti alla Nerano

Some form of zucchini pasta crops up in the gastronomic zeitgeist every few years. First we had the abominable “zoodle” craze, then Meghan Markle’s “zucchini bolognese”, and now we’ve got “Stanley Tucci’s favorite pasta”, or “Pasta alla Nerano”. Things have improved!

Spaghetti alla Nerano is the original zucchini pasta, invented in the seaside comune of Nerano on the southern tip of the Amalfi Coast. This is where Stanley had his first taste of the dish, declaring it “one of the best pastas he’s ever eaten”.

This is our interpretation of the classic dish. We’ve changed things up a bit with the addition of Anchovy Colatura to the base of the sauce. After all, Spaghetti alla Nerano was born by the sea! Colatura feels like a totally natural addition that really kicks up the umami edge and takes this dish to the next level.

Ingredients

SERVES: 4 as a first course
TIME: 45 minutes

Preparation

  1.  Heat 2 tbsp EVOO in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add one garlic clove, allowing it to sizzle and flavor the oil. Remove when it begins to brown and discard.
  2. Add half of the sliced zucchini and cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently, until they have completely softened and browned in places, about 15 minutes. Remove them to a deep bowl or large pyrex measuring jug and set aside. You are going to blend these with pasta water.
  3. Heat another 2 tbsp of EVOO in the same pan and flavor with the second garlic clove, removing it once it begins to brown. Add the remaining zucchini and allow to cook down, brown and soften in the same manner as your first batch.
  4. While the second round of zucchini is cooking, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water.
  5. Add 1 cup of pasta water and 1 tablespoon of anchovy colatura to the cooked zucchini you have set aside. Blend using an immersion blender (or a food processor) until thoroughly combined. Add this mixture to your whole pieces of sliced zucchini cooking in the large pan.
  6. When the spaghetti is 2 minutes shy of al dente, add it to the pan with the zucchini along with most of the basil leaves (reserve some for garnish), a heafty glug of olive oil, 2/3 of the grated cheese, and a ladle of pasta water. Stir everything together, allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce. Add more pasta water and olive oil as necessary to achieve your desired consistency.
  7. Serve garnished with additional basil, cheese, and olive oil.