Spaghetti with Zucchini. Use up all of your summer farmer’s market zucchini with this incredibly simple and beautiful zucchini sauce. The fresh grated zucchini cooks down and caramelizes. Adding pasta water and seasonings turns it into a magical summer sauce that is perfect in it’s simplicity. This is one of my favorite Italian pastas and it is packed with summer zucchini. I cannot wait for you to make this spaghetti alla nerano recipe.
I almost always buy too much zucchini. Or I see a big, beautiful container and buy it at the Farmer’s Market and then I don’t know what to do with so much of it. This is that recipe. The huge pile of grated zucchini cooks down into a simple sauce. The best Italian dishes are the most humble – one ingredient (and always oil & garlic) and it’s turned into magic.
FAQ – That Stanley Tucci Pasta
Can I substitute the cheese to make this vegan?
This recipe is totally vegan if you eliminate the cheese. No need to substitute it, although I think it adds delicious flavor. I would add some nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan, although I have not tested it. Use vegan butter or oil to cook
Is this the Stanley Tucci Pasta?
While working on this Italian zucchini pasta I was seeing “the stanley tucci pasta” everywhere. Turns out he loves this pasta too. It’s such a simple recipe. My absolute favorite thing about it is that every household makes it different (and this is one of my favorite things about Italian households now) and has their way. It’s the best.
Does this make 1 pound of pasta?
This sauce makes enough for 1lb of pasta. Although I like it extra saucy & personally make around 12oz.
Home Cook’s Notes
I find the pasta is better at 12-14oz of noodle. You can use any noodle, but I love it on a long noodle like spaghetti, linguini, bucatini. It makes a delicate sauce that really coats spaghetti well.
For the best zucchini pasta, fry a zucchini or two in a little bit of oil. Salt them and let them drain a bit of water for 10 minutes before frying. They will crisp and get brown and have the most delicious flavor (especially if they are nice and salty). Set them aside and add them to the pasta before serving. Some versions of the pasta are made just by layering thin slices of zucchini with all varying textures by the end. My version is a little simpler than that, but still has varying textures and flavors of zucchini if you keep this step.
From the Kitchen
Connect with Me
Looking for the perfect summer appetizer to go with this dish? Try the Fried Eggplant Caprese with Burrata (it’s seriously insane).
Please let me know your thoughts. This spaghetti alla nerano recipe is one of my favorite pastas during summer – so simply perfect. Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what you think, or tag me on instagram, if you make the recipe @quartersoulcrisis!
Spaghetti Alla Nerano (Zucchini Pasta)
- 1 large sauce post
- 1 large skillet
- 1 smaller zucchini sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 26 oz zucchini grated
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp grated pecorino romano locatelli is my favorite
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- handful of basil roughly torn
- 16 oz spaghetti or bucatini or your favorite noodle
- 2 cups pasta water
- Prep Zucchini: Slice 1 zucchini in 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle them with kosher salt and set them in a colander. Set aside in your sink or own a paper towel while the slices draw out moisture for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the rest of the zucchini. Fill a large sauce pot with water & a very large pinch of salt & set aside. On another burner, place a large skillet with extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium high until oil is hot.
- Fry Zucchini Slices (optional step, see notes): Pat the zucchini slices dry with a paper towel. Add them to hot oil and fry 4-5 minutes on medium high heat until browned and caramelized. Flip and fry again 1-2 minutes. Remove fried slices and set aside on a plate (add a little more salt to taste). These are for serving. If oil is hot, let it cool down for a minute or 2 off heat before next step.
- Make Zucchini Sauce: Add grated zucchini to salty fried zucchini oil. Toss carefully. Zucchini will cook about 30-35 minutes until caramelized and jammy like something you would spread on toast. Stir often, I like to toss every 5 minutes or so. This is a good time to bring the water to boil and cook your pasta noodles so that they can work simultaneously.
- Add butter, garlic & zest: Once zucchini is caramelized & jammy and possibly browning on the pan, make a well in the middle of the pan and add 1 tbs butter & the minced garlic. Let them melt and cook together while garlic cooks 1-2 minutes before stirring it all together. Try to get the minced garlic lightly golden and smelling fragrant before fully tossing it in the zucchini. Continue cooking and tossing until noodles are ready*.
- Finish sauce: Do not drain noodles before reserving 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups of pasta water. Add cheese and some lemon zest to jammy zucchini. Pour 1 cup pasta water into zucchini & toss until everything is combined and any browning is lifted off the pan. The sauce should be thick and silky, not too watery. Sometimes you need 2 cups of the pasta water, sometimes only about 1 &1/2. Add more pasta water, cheese, salt and lemon zest to taste or juice.
- Serve: Serve with extra cheese and lots of torn basil and a squeeze of lemon if you desire.
Home Cook’s Notes
- Storing Directions: You can make just the sauce, stopping after cooking down zucchini and adding butter and garlic. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Reheat in a large skillet or sauce pan on low while you cook your noodles and finish sauce with pasta water when noodles are ready.