SPAGHETTI NERANO – Recipe
Spaghetti is one of the most famous dishes of the Amalfi Coast. The dish comes from the town of Nerano on the coast of the Sorrento Peninsula just across from Capri. The dish was created by Maria Grazia at her trattoria in Nerano. The primary ingredient of the dish is Zucchini with Povola or Caciocavallo Cheese grated into the pasta. Many restaurants on the Amalfi Coast and Capri serve this dish, and most locals know how to make it, and cook it at home, especially if they happen to have a little garden growing Zucchini, Tomatoes, and other vegetables. It’s easy to make and soul satisfying. If you’ve been to the area you may have already eaten it, and so know you can make it back home. Enjoy.
3 medium sized Zucchini, washed
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and cut in half
¼ cup fresh Basil, washed and leaves torn in half
¾ cup of grated Caciocavallo Cheese
1 pound imported Italian Spaghetti
Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper
Slice the Zucchini into ⅛” rounds.
Fill a large pot ¾ full of water, with 2 tablespoons salt and bring to the boil.
Place the Olive Oil in a large frying pan, and turn heat to a medium flame. Add the Zucchini and start to cool. Sprinkle the zucchini with about ½ teaspoon each of salt and Black Pepper. Add the butter and garlic and cook the zucchini for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
Add about a ¼ of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the zucchini, turn the heat to low and cook for about 6 minutes on low heat. Stir the zucchini with a wooden spoon as it is cooking.
Put the spaghetti into the rapidly boiling water and cook according to the directions on the package and the spaghetti is al dente (slightly firm to the bite) usually about 10-11 minutes.
After the zucchini has cooked for a total of about 11 minutes. Turn the heat off. add the Basil and stir. Taste 1 piece of zucchini for seasoning to see if you want to add any more salt or pepper.
When the spaghetti is cooked, turn the heat off and drain the spaghetti into a colander, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need to add to the sauce.
Return the spaghetti to the put that it cooked in. Add all zucchini and all the juices from the pan in the pot with the spaghetti and stir.
Add half of the grated Caciocavallo cheese and stir. The consistency should be just slightly loose. If it is too tight, add a little pasta cooking water and stir.
Plate the spaghetti on 4 plates, giving each person an even amount of zucchini. Drizzle a little olive oil over each plate and serve.
Note : It’s best to make the dish with Caciocavallo Cheese, but if you can’t find, a combination of half grated Pecorino and half of Parmigiano Reggiano is a good substitute, or just Parmigano or Pecorino on their own.
Note II : Once you know how to make Spaghetti Nerano, you can make little variations, simply by adding one other ingredient that marries well with the dish. A great addition to this dish is to make Spaghetti Nerano just as above, and to add 4 or 5 pieces of sauteed shrimp on to each plate. Just have the shrimp ready and cook them in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper, and cooked for about 2 minutes on each side. Turn the heat off and add 4 or 5 pieces of shrimp to the plate with the Spaghetti Nerano and enjoy.