Culinary traditions: Spaghetti alla Nerano

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Spaghetti alla Nerano, primo piatto tipico del luogo.

Culinary traditions: Spaghetti alla Nerano

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written by Claudia Fontana

Marina del Cantone, in Massa Lubrense, is famous for the spaghetti with fried zucchini which, since the beginning of the twentieth century, has taken the name of spaghetti alla Nerano.

The sauce is prepared with fried zucchini, basil and a mix of grated cheeses. As for the cheeses, the grandmothers used what they had at home, pecorino but above all parmesan or dry caciotta. The best restaurants in the area, on the other hand, often use Provolone del Monaco, a typical cheese of the Sorrento coast. This is a raw milk PDO cheese, containing at least 20% of Agerolese breeds milk and aged for six months or more. Furthermore, the creaminess of the dish is given by the fresh provolone curd which melts in contact with the cooking water of the pasta.

The famous pasta of Gragnano is used for this main course, especially the spaghettoni, but there are also versions with scialatielli or mezze maniche. This type of pasta is obtained by mixing wheat semolina with water from the Gragnano aquifer. It is then dried at a temperature between 40 and 80 degrees, for a period of six to sixty hours, obtaining those characteristics that make it special. It is necessary to use a good quality of pasta for a better result of the recipe, so that the starche released during cooking helps the formation of the sauce.

The zucchini, of course, are also important in the success of this dish, but you can use zucchini of different quality as long as they are organic and fried in extra virgin olive oil. The final touch, off the heat, requires the cooking water to mix the flavors and melt the cheeses. We are now going to give the recipe so that anyone can appreciate the flavor of the spaghetti alla Nerano even at home.

Recipe of the spaghetti alla Nerano

Doses for 4 people:

  • 400 g of spaghetti
  • 700 g of fresh zucchini
  • 80 g of grated Provolone del Monaco
  • 80 g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 40 g of grated Pecorino Romano
  • Fresh basil
  • 350 ml extra virgin olive oil + 150 ml peanut oil (for frying)
  • A clove of garlic
  • Salt and black pepper

First of all wash and dry the zucchini, slicing them into pieces about 2mm thick. Then fry them in the oil mixture at 180 degrees, until they are golden; drain the zucchini with a slotted spoon and lay them on a plate with absorbent paper or paper for fried foods. Salt, wash and dry the basil and place it on the freshly cooked zucchini. 

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water. Meanwhile, in a large aluminum pan, fry a clove of garlic over medium heat in a generous round of extra virgin olive oil. When it is just golden, remove the garlic and add the fried zucchini to the pan; letting them sizzle over a very low flame. 

Then drain the spaghetti al dente and reserve their water, add them to the pan and finish cooking by gradually adding about two cups of cooking water. A few seconds before removing it from the heat add the basil and black pepper. After that, pour the pasta and zucchini into another pan and quickly add the cheeses, stirring constantly and adjusting the density of the cream with more cooking water if necessary. Enjoy your meal!


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