Spaghetti with Fried Zucchini (alla Nerano)


Spaghetti alla Nerano.

Spaghetti alla Nerano was invented in the fifties by a woman called Maria Grazia in a restaurant bearing her name in Nerano a small town on the Sorrento peninsula. Apparently the restaurant still exists and is being run by her grandchildren! 

Spaghetti alla Nerano spaghetti with fried zucchini

Pasta with vegetables.

Many Italian pasta recipes are very simple and easy to make, especially those made with vegetables like this spaghetti alla Nerano. Italians love pasta with vegetables. I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, pasta is traditionally, and often, served as a first course (Italians say primo). This means it comes between the antipasti and the main course (secondo). Consequently, it needs to be kept light.

Secondly, Italy has a warm climate with long hot summers throughout the peninsula, but especially in the south. Heavy meals are difficult to digest in the heat, so Italian eat a lot of meatless pasta dishes. Of course, there are also many pasta recipes which include meat. However, these are either eaten more in the winter or on special occasions or when preparing pasta as a main course.

Spaghetti alla Nerano ingredients

Fresh, seasonal and locally grown.

Vegetable based pasta dishes may be simple to make and more easily digested but that doesn’t mean they aren’t flavourful. Italians have a talent for creating tasty food with only a few ingredients. The vegetables they use are almost always fresh, seasonal and locally grown. They make good use of herbs, garlic and, on occasion, peperoncino (chili pepper). Cheese is nearly always present in vegetable based recipes. Italians only don’t use cheese with seafood pasta.

This recipe for spaghetti with fried zucchini (spaghetti alla Nerano) is an excellent example of a simple but exquisite vegetable pasta recipe. It comes from Campania and includes ingredients typical of  Neapolitan cuisine.

Zucchini for alla Nerano 

A little alla Nerano history.

Like many pasta recipes, there are various stories behind the origins of spaghetti alla Nerano. But, the most widely believed is that this recipe was invented in the fifties by a woman called Maria Grazia in a restaurant bearing her name in Nerano a small town on the Sorrento peninsula. Apparently, the restaurant still exists and is being run by her grandchildren!

The cheese.

The secret of the goodness of this spaghetti with fried zucchini recipe lies in its amazing and appetizing creamy texture and the unique taste of the particular provolone cheese used. Provolone del Monaco is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the Monti Lattari area which can be quite spicy depending on the maturation.  Although provolone del Monaco isn’t available everywhere, there are other spicy provolone cheeses produced in Northern Italy and even in America which can be used instead.

Spaghetti with fried zucchini spaghetti alla Nerano

The secret to a great spaghetti alla Nerano.

The other secret to this dish is that the fried zucchini slices have to be dipped in boiling water before creaming them so that they reabsorb some of the liquid they have lost during the frying. You only need to cream 1/3 of the zucchini slices. The rest are left whole.

As I said before this is a very simple but tasty vegetable pasta recipe. I’m sure that once you have tried it you will come back to it time and again.

If you do try this spaghetti alla Nerano recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Some other delicious pasta recipes with zucchini

  1. Pasta with zucchini flowers, saffron and ham
  2. Farfalle pasta with smoked salmon and zucchini
  3. Orecchiette with zucchini and speck
  4. Pasta with saffron and zucchini

N.B. This recipe was originally published in 2017 but has been updated.

Save this recipe for later?

If you want to save this recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

5 from 18 votes
Spaghetti with zucchini alla Nerano
Spaghetti with Fried Zucchini (alla Nerano)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
An excellent example of a simple but exquisite vegetable pasta recipe that comes from Campania and includes ingredients typical of Neapolitan cuisine.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania
Servings: 4
Calories: 630 kcal
Author: Jacqueline Debono
  • 400 g spaghetti (14oz)
  • 700 g zucchini (24oz)
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 200 g grated Provolone cheese (7oz) preferably Provolone del Monaco
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves.
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • pepper to taste
  1. Wash and cut the zucchini into thin slices, then fry them in extra virgin olive oil until browned.
  2. Once fried, put the slices on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
  3. Meanwhile boil the pasta in plenty of lightly salted water until al dente and drain, keeping aside a glass of the cooking water.
  4. Heat some more olive oil in a frying pan with the 2 garlic cloves and cook taking care not to burn the garlic. 

  5. Dip the zucchini slices in boiling water for 4 or 5 seconds, then cream 1/3 of them either by mashing through a sieve or briefly liquidizing in a food blender.
  6. Remove the garlic and add the cream of zucchini and the zucchini slices to the pan and then stir in the cooked spaghetti. If the dish appears too dry add some of the saved pasta cooking water. Continue to stir over a low heat for a minute.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the grated provolone and season with a sprinkling of pepper and salt, Serve decorated with the basil leaves cut into pieces and some extra grated provolone to taste.
Recipe Notes

Spaghetti is the traditional pasta for this recipe but other long pasta such as linguine work well too.
Although the original recipe calls for Provolone del Monaco, this cheese isn’t available everywhere, However there are other spicy provolone cheeses produced in Northern Italy and even in America which can be used instead.


Pin for Later

spaghetti alla Nerano


You May Also Like


  • Avatar
    May 28, 2020 4:03 pm

    Thanks for this might have to give this a whirl as the lady has gone a kick about Zucchini

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2020 11:16 am

    Looks like a great dish for pasta lovers!
    I loved your little history lesson too!

  • Avatar
    Jere Cassidy
    May 28, 2020 4:08 am

    I would love this pasta recipe with the fried zucchini, what a great idea, along with that creamy provolone cheese. Another great dish you have.

  • Avatar
    May 27, 2020 3:47 pm

    This recipe is quick and easy to make on the weekdays.

  • Avatar
    May 27, 2020 4:11 am

    Pasta with vegetables is always a great hit with the kids. It is one of the ways to have my picky eaters eat more veggies. Always love your recipes.

  • Avatar
    May 27, 2020 3:26 am

    OMG a few simple ingredients and so delicious. Zucchinis growing in the yard and this will be enjoyed all summer.

  • Avatar
    Lesli Schwartz
    February 5, 2019 2:40 am

    This looks like a delicious, healthier pasta dish. Personally I love zucchini so much that it’s just perfect in this dish! Yummy!

  • Avatar
    February 4, 2019 6:30 pm

    This sounds so tasty yet simple as well. Very summery flavors.

  • Avatar
    Brian Jones
    February 4, 2019 9:09 am

    That sounds delicious, I love fresh and simple pasta dishes like this… I don’t think I have ever tried provolone cheese, I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled next time I am in the big city.

  • Avatar
    February 3, 2019 4:40 pm

    I love how fresh and easy is this recipe, zucchini and pasta pair so well, can’t wait to make it!

  • Avatar
    Geetha Priyanka
    February 2, 2019 10:32 pm

    pasta with fried zucchini sounds so simple and delish!! Alla nerona history is interesting.

  • Avatar
    Amanda Wren-Grimwood
    February 2, 2019 2:39 pm

    I love fried zucchini so this sounds like a wonderful dish especially combined with that cheese!.

  • Avatar
    Andrea Metlika
    February 1, 2019 9:10 pm

    This sounds amazing! I love pasta and especially dishes like this that are so flavorful and not loaded with sauce.

  • Avatar
    February 1, 2019 8:46 pm

    What a great history of this pasta. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Avatar
    Morgan Eisenberg
    February 1, 2019 8:25 pm

    Love that the zucchini is a part of the sauce as well as left whole. Yum!

  • Avatar
    February 1, 2019 7:52 pm

    Going to save this recipe for summer. So simple and surely delicious!

  • Avatar
    February 1, 2019 7:16 pm

    What a delicious and simple pasta dish! Pasta and fresh vegetables is the best combo. I really enjoyed reading the origins of spaghetti alla Nerano. Thank you for sharing.

  • Avatar
    Sharon Chen
    February 1, 2019 7:13 pm

    Love the zucchini in the pasta looks so yummy!

  • Avatar
    September 11, 2017 1:14 pm

    Please add me to your mailing list.

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating