Legendary Dishes | Spaghetti con Salsa di Zucchini | Spaghetti alla Nerano (pasta with courgette sauce)

ITALY

Traditionally the small courgettes used for this dish were salted to release the water content. With some modern varieties this is not necessary so be sure to select firm courgettes. While it does help to intensify the flavour the same impact can be achieved with deep frying in hot oil, although shallow frying is favoured in many regions.

On the Amalfi Coast the deep-fried method is employed while the dish is dressed with Provolone del Monaco cheese and is known as the spaghetti of Nerano. Nerano is a small village in the region.

Spaghetti with a courgette sauce is typical of the Campania region, because of the proliferation of courgettes, easily and quickly grown in its fertile lands.

Variations of the sauce throughout Italy can include anchovies, usually with garlic, capers, ‘nduja (the soft Calabrian salami made with chillies), tuna or tomatoes.

This dish is believed to be the original.

If you are able to get ‘good’ garlic 4 cloves is sufficient, if less aromatic use 6!

  • 1 kg courgettes, equally sliced into thin rounds
  • 500 ml olive oil
  • 500 g spaghetti, Gragnano
  • 200 g Provolone del Monaco cheese, grated (optional)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, in their skins
  • Basil (optional)
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Oregano (optional)
  • Parmigiano (optional)
  • Parsley (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

Deep fry the sliced courgettes in batches, in oil flavoured with whole garlic, until they take on a golden colour. Set aside to cool and soften, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente, reserve some of the cooking water.

Gently heat 4 tablespoons of the oil used to cook the courgettes in a large frying pan.

Add the spaghetti, the courgettes and a ladleful of the spaghetti cooking water. Cover and cook for two minutes.

Serve dressed with choice of cheese and choice of seasonings.