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Spaghetti Alla Nerano Recipe: A Creamy Pasta and Zucchini

Spaghetti alla nerano is a combination of zucchini and cheese, a mouthwatering Italian dish that is sure to delight everyone.

I love classic zucchini pasta, but this version is super tasty and creamy, thanks to the addition of cheeses.

spaghetti alla nerano in a plate


Spaghetti alla nerano recipe

Spaghetti Alla Nerano Recipe Origins:

Spaghetti alla Nerano is a classic Italian dish that originates from the small town of Nerano, located on the Amalfi coast in Southern Italy.

This simple pasta dish is made with just a few ingredients, including fresh zucchini, creamy provolone cheese, and spaghetti.

The dish is believed to have originated in the 1950s when a local restaurant owner, Maria Grazia, prepared it for her husband using ingredients from her garden.

The dish quickly gained popularity in the city and became a staple in many local restaurants.

Why you will like this recipe

An easy pasta recipe: A dish that is ready in less than 30 minutes.

All you need is a few simple ingredients.

Creamy texture: The sauce’s delicate cheesy & creamy texture is the perfect complement to the spaghetti, resulting in an irresistible combination. 

The Ingredients

Spaghetti: I have always used spaghetti for this recipe, but any pasta can also work for this dish.

Always remember to cook the pasta al dente.

Zucchini: Be sure to choose firm, ripe, deep green and without spots.

Grated cheese: I use parmesan and provolone del Monaco cheese.

These two cheeses combined together are harmonious and delicious. They will create a creaminess that will blow up with every bite!

Garlic and basil: Garlic will add a pungent touch, while fresh basil will give a sweet, aromatic note.

Extra virgin olive oil: The oil to bring it all together.

How to make Spaghetti alla Nerano

Step 1

Wash and dry the zucchini, remove the ends, and slice about about 1/4 inch thick.

You can cook the zucchini in several ways.

The original recipe says to fry them in oil (sunflower oil or olive oil), but I cooked the zucchini in the air fryer for about 10 minutes with very little oil. 

zucchini cook in the air fryer for pasta alla Nerano

Meanwhile, in a large pot, boil the water for pasta, add salt just when the water starts to boil, and cook pasta al dente, about 2-3 minutes from the cooking time indicated on the package.

Step 2

After cooking the zucchini, set some fried zucchini slices aside for decoration of the final dish.

Lightly brown the crushed garlic in a skillet with some olive oil at medium heat.

Add the zucchini and a ladleful of pasta cooking water, and cook over low heat while the pasta finishes cooking.

sliced zucchini in a pan with garlic and pasta water

And in the meantime, grate the cheeses. Grate the provolone finely so it will melt more easily.

provolone cheese grated

Step 3

When the pasta is cooked al dente, transfer it to the skillet with the zucchini, mix well, and add the cheese and some of the pasta water.

pasta with zucchini in a pan with cheeses

Stir well until the cheeses have created a creamy texture. 

Step 4

Serve hot and add basil on top, buon appetito.

Useful Tips and Notes

Zucchini: Choose zucchini that are small and sweet.

Cooking the zucchini: Make sure to cook it until it’s fork-tender but not mushy.

Overcooked zucchini can make the dish watery and ruin the texture. 

Pasta water: Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the spaghetti.

The starchy water can be used to thin out the sauce if it becomes too thick and helps to emulsify the cheese for a creamier texture.

Spaghetti al dente: Always be careful not to overcook the pasta, always drain it al dente, also because it

will continue cooking in the pan with the zucchini.

spaghetti alla nerano bite in a fork.

Variations of Pasta alla Nerano

Vegan – Use your favorite meltable vegan cheese.

Spice up: Add some crushed red pepper flakes to kick up the heat of the recipe.

No provolone, no stress: The flavor of provolone makes this dish unique, but it is not always easy to find.

If you don’t have provolone cheese in your fridge, you can use other semi-hard cheese like Pecorino Romano, Gouda, Edam, Fontina, or Gruyere cheese.​

Serving suggestions

Before serving this delicious pasta, you can serve this simple bruschetta with zucchini.

For a sweet finish, serve this classic tiramisu or this chai tiramisu.


Can I substitute the zucchini for another vegetable?

While zucchini is the traditional vegetable used in this dish, you can substitute it for other summer squash varieties, such as yellow squash or pattypan squash. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture may differ slightly.


This dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

To store, transfer the spaghetti and sauce to an airtight container and let it cool to room temperature before sealing it up.

Add a splash of olive oil or reserved pasta water when reheating.

I don’t recommend freezing it.

Spaghetti Alla Nerano Recipe


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Spaghetti Alla Nerano Recipe

spaghetti alla nerano

Spaghetti Alla Nerano recipe! This easy recipe yields a delicious and Italian classic dish. Ready in less than 30 minutes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3 Tablespoom extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Provolone cheese
  • 7 oz spaghetti
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh basil


  1. Begin by washing and cutting off the ends of the zucchini. Then, slice a slice about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.
  3. To cook the zucchini, you can either cook them in an air fryer ( spray some oil on top and air fry for 12 to 15 minutes) or fry them in oil.
  4. To fry them, simply heat the oil in a large pan and cook the zucchini fine until golden brown on both sides, in a single layer.
  5. Be careful not to burn the zucchini; they should be golden brown but not black. The oil should have a temperature of 450 F (150 C). After frying them, put the cooked zucchini on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.
  6. After cooking the zucchini, set them aside and lightly brown the garlic in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. Add the zucchini when the garlic has browned (remember to set some aside to decorate the dish).
  8. 6. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  9. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (2-3 minutes less than the cooking time indicated in the package instructions).
  10. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the spaghetti.
  11. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the zucchini and stir well to coat the pasta.
  12. Add the grated Parmesan and Provolone cheese and mix thoroughly with the heat off. 
  13. If the pasta seems dry, add a ladleful of pasta water.
  14. Serve hot, adding some basil leaves on top, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 578Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1022mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 23g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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