The following excerpt and recipe for “My” Spaghetti With Zucchini & Basil is from Amber Guinness's cookbook "Italian Coastal: Recipes and stories from where the land meets the sea." It's available for purchase on Amazon

This recipe was inspired by the now-famous spaghetti al Nerano of Ristorante Lo Scoglio. It has been one of my favorite dishes ever since I first tried it there years ago, and lots of the seaside restaurants in Marina del Cantone and in nearby Nerano have their own versions too. One reason the original recipe from Lo Scoglio is so indulgent is because they use a variety of cheeses and the zucchini is deep-fried before the sauce is cooked, making it creamy and meaty at the same time. This is great if you are ordering it in a restaurant but a bit of a fuss to make at home, so I have devised a method that gently shallow-fries it instead, using both sliced and grated zucchini. The process is much quicker and results in a lovely meaty texture without needing a deep-fryer. 

“My” Spaghetti With Zucchini & Basil

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:35 mins
  • Total Time:50 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Easy


  • 2 lb 3 oz zucchini
  • Olive oil for pan-frying and to serve
  • 4 garlic cloves - crushed
  • tsp chili flakes
  • 1 large bunch basil leaves - picked and roughly torn
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb 5 oz spaghetti or linguine
  • 5½ oz parmesan finely grated plus extra to serve
Photo by Saghar Setareh
  • Step 1

    Chop the tops and bottoms off the zucchini and separate into two equal piles. Cut one pile into rounds about 2 mm (1⁄16 inch) thick. Grate the rest of the zucchini using the large holes of a box grater (if you don’t have one, cut into fine matchsticks).

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the garlic and chili for a couple of minutes. Once the garlic starts sizzling, add the zucchini discs and toss with the oil and garlic, making sure they are all well coated. Leave the zucchini to fry for 5 minutes before turning to cook on the other side for a further 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. You want the discs to brown. Add the grated zucchini, basil (reserving a little for garnish), another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes, then pour in half a glass of water (about 150 ml/5 fl oz). Reduce the heat and leave to cook gently while you prepare the pasta.

  • Step 3

    Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, give it a good stir so that it doesn’t stick together, and cook until al dente (about 9 minutes, but check the package instructions). Halfway through the pasta cooking time, add a couple of ladlefuls of the starchy pasta water to the zucchini mixture; increase the heat slightly to allow the water to amalgamate into the sauce. Stir in the grated parmesan and another half ladle of pasta water.

  • Step 4

    Drain the pasta (reserving a mugful of the cooking water in case you need it), then add to the zucchini sauce with a drizzle of olive oil and toss to combine. Top with extra parmesan, a few grinds of pepper and the reserved basil. Serve immediately.

    Courtesy of Thames & Hudson

Excerpted from Italian Coastal, by Amber Guinness

© Thames & Hudson Australia 2024

Text © Amber Guinness

Reprinted by permission of Thames & Hudson Inc,