Spaghetti Alla Nerano Stanley Tucci


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I, like seemingly everyone else, have heard about Stanley Tucci's favorite pasta. If you're not familiar, actor Stanley Tucci became associated with great food in the 1996 movie "Big Night" (which he also co-directed) and has since been in everything from 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada" to "The Hunger Games" film series. 

What recently got audiences (and foodies) excited was the now-canceled CNN series "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy." In the show, Tucci discovered how much he loved, among other things, Spaghetti alla Nerano. The simple pasta dish was one he proclaimed life-changing and one of the best things he'd ever eaten. So, of course I had to make it, but there was just one problem.

The main ingredient is zucchini. And I hate zucchini. 

@myriadrecipes Spaghetti Alla Nerano, one of Stanley Tucci's favourites 😮‍💨 AD Costing you less than £5 using @Napolina ingredients 🌱  For those of you who haven't seen Stanley Tucci's TV series "Searching For Italy", Spaghetti Alla Nerano is a gorgeous dish comprising of fried courgettes in olive oil (this brings out all of the sweetness in the courgette and it's delicious), spaghetti, butter, pecorino, and parmigiano reggiano 🇮🇹  Napolina is the UK's number One Italian cooking brand - rightly so - and provides the most wonderful Italian products. To make this gorgeous dish, find the recipe using Napolina ingredients below: Ingredients: 3 courgettes, sliced 200ml Napolina olive oil 150g Napolina spaghetti 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp pecorino 2 tbsp parmigiano-reggiano Method: 1. Add your Napolina olive oil into your frying pan and bring to low-medium heat. 2. Once your oil is hot, add in your courgettes and fry until golden. 3. Remove your courgettes and set aside. Save your oil in a container and set that aside. 4. Cook your Napolina spaghetti to packet instructions in salted boiling water. 5. Re-drizzle some used oil into a pan and reheat your courgettes. Add in some pasta water and your butter. 6. Add in your pasta, cheese, give it a mix, and then enjoy! #napolina #spaghettiallanerano #spaghetti #pasta #courgette #easyrecipe ♬ original sound - myriadrecipes

But I'll admit, the one and only time I actually liked zucchini was when I had it as a side dish in Italy, so I was willing to trust Tucci on this. After perusing many, many slightly contradictory recipes floating around the internet, I decided to make the recipe featured in the above TikTok, adapted slightly to use ingredients that can be found in the U.S. 

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Spaghetti alla NeranoPhoto credit: Cheapism

How Do You Make Spaghetti alla Nerano

The recipe is simple, but it does take a bit of time. While most recipes suggest that after thinly slicing your zucchini you should cook the resulting medallions in batches, from there the process gets more murky. Some suggest browning them, others say you should never let them brown, and the to-salt or not-to-salt camps (to remove excess water from the zucchini) are divided as well. Furthermore, some added basil, others didn't. 

I salted, since I have nightmares about goopy, wet zucchini, and opted for browning all the way. And I didn't add basil, but only because it's been hella-hot where I live and I am afraid to see what state my basil plant is in outside (I'm guessing dead). 

Related: The Best Costco Pasta Meals to Feed Your Family

The rest of the recipe, however, is pretty simple. Here are the steps:

  • Cook the zucchini in olive oil in batches until golden. Set aside to cool. 
  • Cook your spaghetti. Set aside.
  • Warm the zucchini medallions back up in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some pasta water. 
  • Add in the spaghetti and some butter.
  • When it all looks glossy and delicious, add in some grated Parmigianno Reggiano cheese.
  • Garnish with basil (optional). 

The result? Well, that's complicated.

How Is Spaghetti alla Nerano?

The verdict from my family, which I agreed with, was meh. I have no doubt Stanley Tucci did eat a version that was life-changing. I'm just thinking I missed the mark in a few ways.

A lot of people talk about "bringing out the flavor" of the zucchini, which is rubbish. Zucchini tastes like moist nothing. What will bring out the flavor is really great olive oil. I used one I got from Costco — serviceable, but not much flavor. My zucchini looked the part, but even a clove of garlic wasn't enough to make up for the so-so olive oil. 

Related: Got a Colossal Zucchini That Overgrew in Your Garden? Try These Easy Recipes

Also, the zucchini cooked down pretty dramatically, so I might slice another one next time. I can't believe I'm saying I'd want more zucchini, but there you go.

Another miss was the cheese. While I used a Parmigiano Reggiano, I honestly think it may have been in my fridge too long. It probably would have had a stronger flavor if it had been fresher.

Spaghetti alla NeranoPhoto credit: Cheapism

Is Spaghetti alla Nerano Worth Making?

Given that it's really pretty easy to make if you have the right ingredients, this pasta dish is worth at least a second attempt. I know what I'd do differently, and I may even be willing to overlook the zucchini. I will admit they are better once you've thinly sliced them and cooked them to a crisp. While they will never be my favorite vegetable, I will try to find a place in my heart for them, even if it involves a lot of olive oil. 

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