The secret of Nerano Spaghetti


Don’t call it pasta and zucchini. Nerano spaghetti is the first typical dish of Neapolitan cuisine and, despite their simplicity, requires careful preparation and special ingredients. The real, original and authentic spaghetti alla Nerano are in fact very creamy. Today, celebrities flock to the tiny village to savour it – the British royals, Beyonce, Leonardo di Caprio…. learn how to make this recipe with Italy Insight’s authentic recipe. (Nonna approves.)


The origin of this dish on Neapolitan tables is not certain but many agree that it dates back to the 50’s and were invented in the Bay of Nerano, a small maritime hamlet of the Municipality of Massa Lubrense overlooking the Gulf of Salerno, at the beginning of Amalfi Coast. It seems that in the kitchen of this restaurant, Maria Grazia, they tried to add Provolone del Monaco to a poor dish like pasta with zucchini, a spun paste cheese that acquires spiciness based on the seasoning. This dairy product, typical of Agerola, a town of the Lattari mountains, has been produced since the 1700s, when some shepherds who lived on the Vomero, moved because of urban expansion. Some families settled in the area and began to exploit the local pastures, producing mainly provola cheese. Why of Monaco? The market of these shepherds was above Naples and, when they went to the city covered by heavy cloaks were nicknamed “monks”. Hence the name of their cheese: Provolone del Monaco. Today spaghetti alla Nerano are prepared daily both in homes across Naples and in Campania restaurants and throughout Italy.


A simple recipe but one that requires a lot of  love and attention and TLC.

Ingredients: Spaghetti, 220gr (7.7 ounces) / Provolone del Monaco, 125 gr (4.4 ounces) / Basil / Garlic, one clove / Extravirgin olive oil
Portions: 2 / Preparation: Easy

To prepare the authentic spaghetti alla Nerano recipe, start by taking your washed zucchini and cut into thin slices.

Brown them in abundant oil, then place them on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Leave to cool while you move on to the next steps.

Wash a large handful of basil, dry it and add it to the fried zucchini.

In the meantime, place the spaghetti in boiling water, add salt towards the end of cooking.

Fry a garlic clove in a pan with some olive oil. Then remove it and place your zucchini and basil into the pan with the oil that has now absorbed the garlic flavour. Cook over low heat for a few minutes.

Drain the spaghetti when they are still slightly al dente and make sure to keep aside a cup of the salted pasta water. Put everything back into the pan with the zucchini and other ingredients, where they will finish cooking.

Grate your Provolone del Monaco, add it to the pan and gradually add the water you saved earlier.

Cook for a few more minutes, being careful not to let the seasoning dry out  too much. Add more cooking water if necessary to get the right creaminess; this is the real secret of the spaghetti recipe Nerano.