The Magazine about Sorrento Peninsula
Categories Food

Nerano-style pasta

VIPs cannot resist its taste.
Athletes like Maria Sharapova make an exception to their inflexible diet regime, because they cannot but taste it. Stars like Paul McCartney do not miss a chance to appreciate its taste and creamy texture. We are talking about the Nerano-style pasta, the iconic dish of the Sorrento cuisine by which the actors Eduardo de Filippo and Totò were bewitched.

A frugal dish worthy of a prince
It was around the year 1952. Francesco Caravita, Prince of Sirignano, better known as Pupetto, was sailing from Capri to Positano. In the middle of the night, he stopped in Nerano, the seaside town near Massa Lubrense that was a coveted retreat for distinguished holidaymakers and a temple of local gastronomy. Pupetto was extremely hungry and rushed into the “Maria Grazia restaurant. At that moment, however, the restaurant’s pantry was almost completely empty. There were only some zucchinis from the family’s vegetable garden, some basil leaves, a piece of caciocavallo cheese, some ewe’s milk pecorino cheese and aged caciotta cheese, apart from salt, oil and obviously some spaghetti. They were frugal ingredients, but the cooks at the restaurant overlooking the beach of Nerano were able to combine them to perfection, creating a dish worthy of the Prince of Sirigano’s palate. That is the origin of the delicacy attracting foodies and jet-setters from around the world to the Sorrento Peninsula. The secret of its success? It probably lies in the combination of cheese – to which Provolone del Monaco was added later – or in the process of using the pasta cooking water to create the creamy texture. Even more probably, it lies in the combination of history and legend, fantasy and improvisation, that has nourished the myth of the Sorrento cuisine for 70 years.

Ingredients for two people
220 gr (8 oz) spaghetti
500 gr (17 oz) zucchini
125 gr (4.5 oz) Provolone del Monaco aged cheese
20 gr (0.7 oz) basil
30 gr (1 0z) extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
Salt to taste

Preparation
To get started, get the main ingredient: zucchini. Wash the zucchini, cut them in thin slices and fry them in extra virgin olive oil until they are slightly golden in colour. Then, leave them to dry on absorbent kitchen paper in order to drain the oil, and sprinkle with salt. Wash some basil leaves, drain them and add to the fried zucchini. Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water. Lightly fry a mashed garlic clove in a pan, then remove it and replace it with the zucchini and basil. Cook on low heat for some minutes. Drain the spaghetti and add a bit of the cooking water to the pan containing the zucchini. Get the second most important ingredient of Nerano style pasta: the Provolone del Monaco aged cheese. Grate it and add it to the pan. Cook for some more minutes, while taking care not to dry the ingredients’ sauce. If necessary, add more cooking water, to obtain the perfect creamy consistency.

Sorrento Style 2019 #1