by Daniela Del Balzo of Daniela’s Cooking School in Rome


1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelliSpaghetti alla Nerano
3 medium zucchini (the skinnier the better)
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup shredded Provolone Sorrento (soft provolone)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 T butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

2. Wash zucchini, cut off the ends, slice into thin discs, and set aside.

3. When water boils, throw in spaghetti and cook to al dente stage according to timing on package.

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, place olive oil and garlic on medium heat. Brown lightly being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the zucchini and cook until soft, stirring frequently.

5. When pasta is done, drain, reserving a few ladles of the cooking water.

6. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the zucchini. Place over medium heat, add both cheeses, basil, butter and mix well. If the sauce needs to be creamier, slowly add small amounts of the pasta water.

Spaghetti Alla Nerano


The origin of this dish goes back to the town of Amatrice in Northern Lazio and didn’t include tomatoes until the Romans seized it and claimed it for their own. Serious food fights have occurred over whether or not to use onions (many Romans seem to prefer it this way, but purists do not). Romans use only guanciale (similar in taste to pancetta but from the jowl of the pig), but a good quality pancetta can be substituted . This recipe is from The Gioia of Cooking, my friend Gioia Acon’s cooking school in Rome.


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 oz diced pancetta or guanciale
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup Italian dry white wine
1 can (28-oz) San Marzano tomatoes or 3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped fresh plum tomatoes (Use fresh only if they’re top quality sweet tomatoes, otherwise you’ll have far better results with canned)
Sea salt
1 pound rigatoni, bucatini, or spaghetti
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano, about 1/2 cup


1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in large pot.
2. Heat oil in large, high-sided pan, add onions and peperoncino. Cook until onions are soft and golden.
Remove from pan and keep warm.
3. Add pancetta to pan, cook until it begins to crisp. Return onions and peperoncino to pan with pancetta.
4. Raise heat and add white wine to deglaze, stirring with a wooden spoon until liquid is reduced.
5. Add tomatoes, salt to taste, and lower heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove peperoncino.
7. Meanwhile add generous amount of salt to boiling water and throw in pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions .
8. Drain pasta, add to sauce in pan, and mix well.
9. Top with Pecorino Romano.

Serves 6