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Spaghetti with zucchini in the style of Nerano
With Tonino Mellino’s secret
Zucchini are the heart of this dish. But there are two risks.
The former is the tendency to a sweet taste which is enhanced by the starch coming out from the dough. A good remedy is basil, the sure use of garlic and a sprinkling of Provolone del Monaco cheese which has a spicy flavour as includes kid rennet.
The latter risk is that zucchini can get dry, colourless and the skin can become black after being fried. This is the most widespread mistake in the Neapolitan cuisine and it can be avoided thanks to some tricks beginning from the most delicate moment which brings about the success of the dish: you have to cut zucchini into round and very thin slices in order to make the fry smooth. It is impossible to obtain this if you cut zucchini into pieces or small pieces. After frying zucchini in heaping extra virgin olive oil you have to dry them and then, this is Tonino Mellino’s secret, you have to put them in boiling water for some seconds before cooking them until creamy. So they are regenerated absorbing the water which they have leaked and are ready to absorb the liquids of the dish.
Ingredients for 4 people:
Follow the advised procedure for zucchini: cut them thinly, fry them in extra virgin olive oil and dry them. In the meantime cook the pasta and brown, or “sweat” as Tognazzi said, two cloves in six tablespoons of olive oil, until all the liquids have come out, being careful not to get the smoking point. Take off the cooker. Put a minimum part of the zucchini in boiling water to get a double consistency, add a pinch of salt and a bit of raw oil and pour the contents into the frying pan from which you have taken the garlic out.
Drain the pasta (it has to be firm but not hard), cook the zucchini cut into round slices in a slow way, add the spaghetti and cook it until creamy. Take off the cooker, add the Provolone del Monaco cheese and make it be absorbed by the pasta. Put on the dish adding a bit of pepper and basil.
Et voilą, this is the dish which Totņ and Eduardo enjoyed when they came in this area.
P.S.: As all the successful recipes, it has many variations and lots of secrets. One of these is the butter used when it is cooked until creamy, the dairies from the Lattari Mountains have always been renowned. I prefer not to add it because it gives a sweet taste. Other people use big or short kinds of pasta but I think it is wrong as it is turned into a refectory meal, and someone uses eggs but so it is something like the “carbonara” pasta. You can do as you prefer. However I am sure that this dish was invented by Maria Grazia in Nerano.