Fried Zucchini and Basil Casarecce

Fried Zucchini and Basil Casarecce

Here’s a riff on an Amalfi Coast classic: Spaghetti alla Nerano. Instead of spaghetti, this recipe calls for casarecce, a sturdy, short, scroll-like pasta that captures sauce and can withstand the vigorous stirring needed to create a cheesy, creamy coating. It also calls for Piave Vecchio, a young, hard cheese that’s not quite as salty as Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1½ pounds zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound dried casarecce or spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ⅔ cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 1½ cups finely grated Piave Vecchio or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A few zucchini blossoms, sliced (optional)


  1. Pat zucchini rounds with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 cup olive oil until it’s nice and hot but not smoking. Working in batches, add zucchini and fry, turning, until golden and crisp on both sides, 7-8 minutes per batch. Transfer fried zucchini to prepared plate. Keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, in another small frying pan over low heat, combine remaining ¼ cup olive oil and shallots and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook another minute or two. Remove from heat.
  4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add casarecce and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve about 1½ cups pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander and return it to warm pot.
  5. Off heat, add butter to pasta, then stir in shallot-garlic mixture, fried zucchini, lemon zest and basil. Gradually alternate between adding a little cheese followed by a little pasta water, while constantly stirring quite vigorously. (If you dump the cheese in all at once, you could end up with a clump.) Continue to add cheese and as much pasta water as needed to create a creamy emulsion. Some of the zucchini will break up, but that’s what we want. Add a little more pasta water, if needed, to make it glossy, or a splash of the zucchini-infused oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve pasta topped with a few basil leaves and zucchini blossoms, if using.

Original WSJ Article