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A beautiful bowl with spaghetti with golden fried zucchini rounds and fresh torn basil leaves.

Spaghetti Alla Nerano

Spaghetti alla nerano (also called pasta nerano or spaghetti with zucchini) is a simple yet flavorful Italian dish using minimal ingredients.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Lindsey Jenkins


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, skins removed
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds or 5 small
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter dairy-free or regular
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Maldon salt optional for serving


  • Heat the olive oil in a high-walled dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly fragrant and golden, then remove it from the oil.
  • Add the zucchini rounds to the oil and cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon, shaking off any excess oil, and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue this process until you've cooked all the zucchini.
  • Start cooking your pasta during your second to last batch of zucchini and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain your noodles.
  • Pour the leftover zucchini-infused oil into a small bowl and set aside. Remove about 1 cup of the cooked zucchini (which will only be about a third of the total amount) to either a tall jar if using an immersion blender or the bowl of a food processor along with ¼ cup of the pasta water and 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil. Blend until smooth, adding more pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.
  • With the high-walled pot back over medium-low heat, add the spaghetti, butter, and zucchini sauce. Use tongs to stir everything together until the noodles are well-coated and the butter has melted. Add more salt and fresh black pepper, to taste.
  • Serve with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of the remaining zucchini-infused oil. Plus a sprinkle of Maldon salt (optional).


Hot tip: don't try to cook the zucchini in a single layer or you'll be frying zucchini all night.
Make it gluten-free – use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti.
No garlic? - you can either use garlic-infused olive oil or leave it out completely.
Variations - add in grated provolone cheese, use a mix of zucchini and summer squash, or add protein such as shrimp or fish to make it more filling.