I love me some Stanley Tucci.
The Devil Wears Prada. The Lovely Bones. The Hunger Games. Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy on CNN.
If you haven’t watched the series, you should. My friend Kris and I love it. How else would you know about Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia 2020 produced in Sicily by Arianna Occhipinti? Great work, Stanley.
When Chad and I visited Italy in 2011. We learned a few things. A few examples, there is no such thing as a “light lunch” in Emilia-Romagna and Italians know what to do with all of that summer zucchini. In one of the episodes, they pan fry zucchini and make some delicious Spaghetti alla Nerano! or Spaghetti Alle Zucchine (Spaghetti With Zucchini and Basil)!
There are many ways, many versions referred to online. Much like Cacio e Pepe (which is now being sold in jars… eek!). I imagine, this is probably best at the source. In the original restaurant, in Italy. However, that is a luxury and doesn’t address the zucchini you need to use, so here are two recipes I found for you to try.
Source: The New Yorker
Spaghetti alla Nerano
Adapted from Lo Scoglio da Tommaso and other Nerano restaurants.
- 6 medium zucchini, sliced into quarter-inch rounds
- Sunflower oil, for frying
- 14 oz. spaghetti
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 2 to 4 oz. grated cheese (such as aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Provolone del Monaco, or Caciocavallo)
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- A pat of butter (optional)
- Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Take thinly sliced zucchini rounds and deep-fry in sunflower oil until golden (or even slightly burnt).
2. Put fried zucchini on a paper towel to absorb oil; let sit in a bowl for a few hours to rest (or put in the fridge overnight). Before using, dab them again with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
3. Boil spaghetti in lightly salted water until al dente. Save a cup of cooking water after draining spaghetti.
4. Reheat zucchini in a frying pan with optional minced garlic.
5. Place half of the zucchini into a clean pot or bowl, then add a few Tbsp. of cheese and a few Tbsp. of the pasta cooking water. Stir the mixture until cheese begins to melt. Add spaghetti, the rest of the zucchini, and cheese, and continue stirring until cheese and spaghetti water form a saucy emulsion. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more cooking broth. If it is too thin, add more cheese.
- Add fresh basil, butter, and black pepper, to taste.
- Serve with sprig of basil on top—with basil flower, if you have it—in a shallow bowl.
Everything happens very quickly. Toss it all up!
Lo Scoglio, Massa Lubrense
Spaghetti Alle Zucchine (Spaghetti With Zucchini and Basil)
Recipe courtesy of Tommaso de Simone (chef)
Chef Tommaso de Simone of Lo Scoglio celebrates the fabulous flavors of the Amalfi Coast by using fresh local fish and seasonal produce from the family farm at this stunning seafront restaurant. His recipe for spaghetti served with sweet zucchini, savory parmesan and aromatic basil is the perfect example of quality ingredients carefully combined with love and attention. For extra decadence stir through a spoonful of butter before serving.
Makes 4 servings
Sunflower oil for frying
6 medium zucchini
14 ounces | 400 grams spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (preferably aged 2 years)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1. Heat a generous amount of sunflower oil in a large saucepan.
2. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and then fry in the hot oil until they begin to turn golden. Drain the zucchini with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and leave in the fridge to rest and soften for at least 2 hours.
3. When you are ready to prepare the dish, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water for the next step.
4. Heat the rested zucchini in a large frying pan along with 2 ladles of the spaghetti cooking water and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired.
5. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the zucchini. Remove the pan from the heat, add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss everything together well.
6. Divide into 4 portions, sprinkle each bowl with more Parmigiano-Reggiano and top with a few fresh basil leaves before serving.
Either way, Delicious!