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

5 from 2 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 Jennifurla August 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    This looks drop dead good!

  • Reply Nicole August 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    When you talk 90’s, you’re speaking my language! Clueless is still awesome and I think we all wanted Cher’s closet 🙂 This dish, btw, looks fantastic and is a perfect idea for zucchini season.

  • Reply Nadette @ Eat, Read, Rant! August 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Adriana, you crack me up. mostly because i agree with like 99% of the points you brought up in this story/recipe. I mean, I like animals in general. And I’m aware that the modern meat industry literally resembles something from a horror flick, and that’s why I refuse to watch any of that literature, because even though it’s cruel, I’m still going to eat a hamburger. And you’re right, the devil did invent egglplant, and raisins (and zucchini as far as i’m concerned, and definitely mayonnaise..but i digress). but at the end of the day, even IF i could give up my biannual trip to 5 guys, it’s cheese and butter that i could NEVER give up. I think you and I have the answer for world peace. Cheese and bacon. because I literally believe that Bacon makes the world a better place, and frequently sight places of unrest that don’t eat pork (like Iraq) as examples to prove my theory. Sorry for the novel, but I just had to share, lol. And now I’m gonna try this recipe with portabellos to replace that devil’s fruit zucchni.

  • Reply DessertForTwo August 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks for the cookbook review. I’ve been curious how her new book was.
    And by the way, Clueless was (and possibly still is) the best movie ever, Boys to Men and Nirvana totally rocked, and Gwen Stefani was my idol too. We’re 90s sisters!

  • Reply sobrina August 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I loooove zucchini — this looks amazing and simple, I will have to give it a try!

  • Reply SugarFoot Designs August 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Looks so yummy. Perfect for a vegetarian option as well.

  • Reply Michelle August 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Wow – just read the last comment. You’ve kind of opened a can of worms, eh? Wanna talk about stay-at-home moms vs. working moms in your next post? : ) I kid!

    I agree with you that it would be good for my body to go vegan but cheese would definitely be my sticking point too. I just can’t see my world w/o it. I don’t want to see my world w/o it! Personally, I enjoyed this post and I love the zucchini dish. Looks delicious!

    • Reply Adrianna August 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

      thanks! total can of worms! oh lordy!

  • Reply jen August 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

    please! don’t change a thing about your blog, i love it too much!

  • Reply whitney August 30, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I used to LOVE cheese. Seriously. I know this blog isn’t about veganism or its support or making people feel bad about their choices and that’s not what I’m about either. But, the reason I’m vegan is that I can’t be a part of the veal industry. And let’s be honest, the veal industry only exists as a by-product of the dairy industry. What else to do with all those newborn male baby calves? And really…as a woman, I also can’t be a part of an industry that uses a machine literally called the “rape rack.” But I guess you can. And that’s your call. I miss cheese. A lot. But it isn’t (and will never be) worth the cost.

    • Reply Brendan August 30, 2010 at 11:18 am

      I too read this post as CLEARLY being a tacit endorsement of ‘rape racks’.

      It’s a good thing you’re not about ‘making people feel bad about their choices’…

    • Reply Joan August 30, 2010 at 11:29 am

      I don’t really see the big deal. I bought a “rape rack”* off lat night TV about a year ago and I LOVE it! Everyone told me I’d just end up hanging my laundry on it, letting it gather dust in the basement. But oh no! I literally use it every day. It’s especially good for relieving stress, and I’ve never been in better shape!

      I have to admit, you lost me on the whole cheese and baby calf rant. I guess it helps me burn off cheese calories from time to time, but I couldn’t see a cow getting any practical use out of this thing. Anyways, those short commercials can only show you a little bit of what your “rape rack”* can do.

      *On further investigation, I own a “Nordic Trac” which I’m guessing is similar.

  • Reply Joanne August 30, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I too occasionally think things like Oh I could totally be vegan. Lies. Cheese would totally get in the way.

    this looks fantastic! Definitely health food. Definitely.

  • Reply Kayla @ Let's Live Wholesome August 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Yeah, I was vegan for about 2 months, until I couldn’t handle not eating eggs anymore 🙂

    I’m simply allergic to dairy, so I haaaave to use fake cheese. Thank God for Daiya brand; it’s a lifesaver.

  • Reply Maria August 30, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Great way to use up the summer zucchini! I might make this for dinner tonight! Thumbs up:)

  • Reply sarah August 30, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I agree whole heartedly!

  • Reply Kim @ Two Good Cookies August 30, 2010 at 6:44 am

    This looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it with the zucchini, mozz, parm and basil which are all in my fridge! And my new cast iron pan!!!

  • Reply Signe August 30, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Christ, this looks sooo good! Going to give it a go with some fresh pasta 🙂

    And I agree, I could survive just fine as a vegetarian but vegan is just out of the question! Just can’t live without cheese and iced coffee with cream!

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