Bucatini alla Nerano (Bucatini with Zucchini): Read & Nosh Series
Bucatini is my absolute favorite type of pasta. Its essentially thicker spaghetti that is hollow inside. The hole gives it a bit more texture and makes it ideal for sopping up sauce both inside and outside of the noddle. I’m telling you, once you go bucatini, you don’t go back.
This dish was inspired by the book “Taste My Life Through Food” by Stanley Tucci. I have a bit of an embarrassing story about this whole thing, are you ready for it?
I saw this book on the NYT best seller list, and because I read so much, I’m always looking for something new to read. I didn’t know who Stanley was, but his face on the cover looked vaguely family. With a title like “Taste” I just assumed he was one of the chefs on the Food Network, hence why I thought he looked so familiar. I’m halfway through this book and nothing is making sense, he’s talking about being on set – directing, filming. I was thoroughly confused. Why is this chef in movies (especially movies unrelated to food). Regardless, I keep reading. At one point he mentions this little Italian restaurant he stumbles upon while filming in a new location. The chef comes out and they get to talking – both being from Italy there was an instant bond. Essentially he said “make me whatever!” And they send out a plate of Spaghetti alla Nerano – spaghetti with zucchini. He said it was the best thing he’s ever eaten. Since then, he’s made this numerous times and it’s taken the internet by storm.
The Nosh: Bucatini alla Nerano (Bucatini with Zucchini)
Spaghetti with zucchini is apparently a very classic dish in Italy, humble, but delicious… where each ingredient really just shines on its own. With it being the start of summer I have a plethora of organic zucchini that needed to be used, so I tried my hand at this – Jules’ version. I swapped out the spaghetti for bucatini (naturally, of course) and added a few things here and there.
It turned out to be an absolutely delicious, simple meal. One we’ll keep in our repertoire.
Oh, and about that Stanley Tucci? After I finished the book I mentioned to my husband that this was just the weirdest book about a man who loves food (was he a chef, apparently not?) who was always on set. “You don’t know Stanley Tucci?!” My husband asked. Apparently EVERYONE knows Stanley Tucci (for those of you who don’t pay any attention to pop culture, he’s a very famous actor and director) So there you have it folks…nothing keeps me away from an interesting story and a good recipe.
Mangia! (Let’s eat!)
(This is how the cooked down zucchini should look)
- Olive Oil, extra virgin
- 4 large zucchini, sliced
- 1 /2 TSP salt, plus more for pasta water
- 1 box of bucatini or spaghetti
- 3 TBSP fresh basil
- 5 TBSP freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 TBSP pine nuts
*I’m convinced adding a couple tsp of freshly diced mint would elevate this even more, if using, add this in when adding the basil.
- Add a couple glugs (a few TBSP) of extra virgin olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add your sliced zucchini and salt and sauté until they’re translucent and somewhat caramelized (see picture).
- Meanwhile, boil your salted pasta water. Cook bucatini to al dente, follow package instructions.
- Once the zucchini are done cooking, add 2 TBSP of butter and the fresh basil, saute for a minute. Add in 1/3 cup of pasta water. Cook for another 3 minutes until the zucchini mixture gets thicker and saucy. Add a little more pasta water if you feel it is needed. Turn off the heat, add your cheese and pasta. Toss to incorporate thoroughly. Top with pine nuts, freshly grated cheese and fresh black pepper.
Recipe: inspired by Stanley Tucci’s