Pasta alla Nerano

Dinner, Pasta

Pasta alla Nerano is a quick and simple summer pasta dish. It’s the perfect thing to make if you have a surplus of zucchini. The sauce is light and delicious and yet flavorful due to the two different types of cheese.

What Is Pasta Alla Nerano

Pasta alla Nerano is a Italian summer pasta that hails from the Sorrentine peninsula. There’s an area actually called Nerano! Story has it that its origins are from a restaurant in the Nerano region where chef Maria Grazia served this pasta starting in the 1950s.

There are a few ways to make this dish. Some don’t blend it up; they simply fry the zucchini, pour the pasta water on top, along with the spaghetti and cheese. But I saw another method that blended it all up into a sauce and felt like that might be more my jam.

How to Make Pasta Alla Nerano

  1. In a skillet, set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic clove. This is going to infuse the oil with garlic.
  2. Then, add in the sliced zucchini, in one even layer. Some zucchini will get crispy, others will get soft. All good.
  3. Allow to fry for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the zucchini and transfer to a bed of paper towels or clean kitchen towel. Reserve a few of the crispy zucchini slices for garnish.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and drop in the spaghetti. Cook it until it’s al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. We’re gonna need this for our sauce.
  5. For this next step, you can use a food processor or very small blender. OR you can use a mason jar and immersion blender (like I did). Add the zucchini, two cheeses, a handful of basil and pasta water. Pulse until very smooth.
  6. Add the drained and cooked pasta to a bowl. Toss with the sauce, a splash or two of pasta water, if you need it, a few torn basil leaves and some freshly ground pepper. Toss until completely coated.
  7. Plate it up and top with some crispy zucchini slices and some more cheese, if you like.

Tips and Tricks

  • You can use yellow squash OR zucchini. But I wouldn’t combine them because I fear the color might be a little unattractive.
  • If you can’t find aged provolone, feel free to substitute it with Parmesan-Reggiano. I tried to use smoked gouda (what was I thinking?) and it didn’t taste that great.
  • I have made this dish with spaghetti and another pasta shape–similar to penne—and it was wonderful.

If you make this recipe, let me know on Instagram!

Looking for more recipes? Here are a few I love!

Pasta alla Nerano

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Assembly Time 3 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Serving Size: 2
Calories: 275kcal


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 small zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 ounce aged provolone, finely grated
  • 1 ounce pecorino romano, finely grated
  • 1 handful of basil leaves, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • In a medium skillet, set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic clove. This will infuse the oil with the garlic. Add the sliced zucchini in one even layer and fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Some will get crispy and browned and others won’t. It’s all good either way. Transfer the zucchini to a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Reserve a few of the crispy zucchini slices.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add a few pinches of salt. It might boil up a bit so beware. Add the spaghetti (or pasta of choice) and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in a mason jar, using an immersion blender, add the zucchini, pecorino romano, parmesan, about 1/4 cup of pasta water, and a handful of basil leaves. Pulse until very smooth. Give it a taste and adjust the salt to your liking. If it needs more pasta water, don't be shy to add a splash or two.
  • Add the drained pasta to a bowl. Top it with the sauce, a few rounds of black pepper and a handful of torn basil leaves. Give it a mix and add a splash of pasta water to loosen it up even more. Toss until thoroughly combined. Divide amongst bowls and top with a few more basil leaves and the reserved zucchini slices.


Tips and Tricks: 
  • You can use yellow squash OR zucchini. But I wouldn’t combine them because I fear the color might be a little unattractive.
  • If you can’t find aged provolone, feel free to substitute it with Parmesan-Reggiano. I tried to use smoked gouda (what was I thinking?) and it didn’t taste that great.
  • I have made this dish with spaghetti and another pasta shape--similar to penne—and it was wonderful.
CuisineAmerican, Italian
Keyworditalian pasta, summer pasta, zucchine pasta, zucchini pasta
Serving: 2g | Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 28mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 245mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen


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Recipe Rating

  • Reply Chelsea August 10, 2020 at 10:48 am

    What’s the lovely cocktail you paired with the recipe?? Looks great!

  • Reply Spreeretail March 4, 2020 at 9:22 am

    It looks really good and delicious. Love this. Thanks:)

  • Reply BikersGearGermany February 15, 2020 at 7:56 am

    It looks delicious . i tried it at least once soon. Thanks for sharing with us:)

  • Reply Difficult Simplicity July 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for the recipe and I’m probably one of the few that likes eggplants. It’s pretty good battered and fried. Also you should know that you don’t have to go vegan to eat healthy. I see people everywhere thinking that it’s either eat meat or go vegan but that’s just plain dumb. If you love meat products but can’t quit eating it, then don’t. Simply reduce how often you eat it while including more healthier foods in your life. It’s not too complicated and probably much better than the vegans beating themselves over this. I might also include that usually companies will milk money off people like them, having a higher price for the product, which is the same with the people that have to have gluten-free food. The prices are much higher.

    I guess I better end my little rant thing before it goes to 50 other subjects. Once again, thanks for sharing this recipe you found.

  • Reply Jen July 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Holy cannoli. This was so good! And I am usually a…less than average cook. This came out perfect, although I did burn one batch of my zuccs while frying them up (I told you. Less than average.) Luckily we currently have them come out of our ears so no problem! Thanks for the great recipe. My husband was impressed. 🙂

  • Reply CGriff July 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Just tried over pasta and it was DELISH. Thanks for the great way to use a few zuccs!

  • Reply Sharon July 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    My Italian mother-in-law has been making squash parm for more than the last 25 years that I’m aware of. It’s superior to any eggplant version to be had anywhere, even her own! She cuts the squash lengthwise into thin strips. A mandolin would work (she still does this by hand/eye). Then she flours and fries. There’s something about the thin strips that’s unparalleled.

  • Reply debbie September 12, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I had been vegetarian for 25 years and an italian, so lived off of cheese! I’m vegan now (a little less than 2yrs). After the first 6-8mts I convinced myself that I could grant myself a weak moment and sneak a bite of 5 cheese ziti. It was horrendous! After your body detoxifies from animal products, your mouth gets use to fresh and healthy foods and the taste just isn’t pallatible! I’m not here to convince anyone to be vegan, but since everyone agreed that the. big biz of dairy farming is cruel, instead of deciding to turn the other way (let’s face it that’s the same crime as joe paterno), why not find a local dairy farmer with humane practices? The products are cleaner and taste better, the animals are happier and you’re helping the environment and a local farmer! Its a win win, just like this recipe without the cheese!

  • Reply zofrdk1glgf1 August 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I must say i like your blog, very good put up always keep in the fine job. May book-marked your web blog.

  • Reply Becca September 8, 2011 at 1:55 am

    So the basil I bought at Kroger (oh how I wish I hadn’t killed my basil plant!) that tastes like anise, but it added a really interesting flavor to the original flavor scheme. Might be worth adding just a touch next time I get better basil. 🙂

    • Reply Adrianna September 8, 2011 at 2:32 am

      Basil that tasted like anise? Weird. Definitely try again…maybe just skipping the basil. 🙂

  • Reply Nancy September 7, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I could never be vegan, let alone vegetarian, but I still love vegan and vegetarian meals. I was told about this book Vegan Soul Kitchen when I was in Memphis. Let me put it to you this way when a local tells you that the vegan soul food is heaven they are not wrong. I think anyone who likes this site should check it out. If I was to ever be vegan I think this book would be my bible.

    • Reply Adrianna September 8, 2011 at 2:32 am

      I love vegan food, despite not being a vegan. I’ll definitely check it out! TY! xo

  • Reply Tearlach August 4, 2011 at 8:21 am

    it’s really good and delicious

  • Reply Audrey Grace June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks so much for all your great recipe ideas! I saved a few of them and cannot wait to try them. I believe this has to be the first one I’ll make.

    p.s. I wanted to be Gwen too! I feel you on that note.
    Keep the yummy food coming!

  • Reply Amy Reynolds November 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I have been a vegetarian for 13 years….but definitely cannot go without cheese! It makes life delish! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

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