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Make The Baked Ziti Nerano from Don Angie

The owners of acclaimed NYC restaurant Don Angie share a recipe from their acclaimed 2021 cookbook.

By Angie Rito & Scott Tacinelli

9:00 AM EDT on August 28, 2023

Baked Ziti Nerano with Zucchini & Provolone.

Baked Ziti Nerano with Zucchini & Provolone.

Editor's Note: Appetito loves Don Angie, a critically acclaimed NYC Italian-American restaurant from Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli. This recipe and adapted preface is from their book Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials: A Cookbook.

This white baked ziti, with zucchini and provolone, is based on spaghetti alla nerano, a dish from the town of Nerano on the Sorrento peninsula.

That particular specialty—which happens to be one of Scott's favorite pasta dishes—is made with fried zucchini and Provolone del Monaco, a stringy semi-hard local cheese. It's nearly impossible to find that particular cheese outside of that one town, so we use a combination of soft provolone—the mild kind you get at the deli counter, that melts like mozzarella—and hard provolone, which has a much sharper, more pungent taste and less-gooey texture.

Don Angie cookbook cover
The acclaimed cookbook from the team at Don Angie was published in 2021.

Combine that with soft onions, melted zucchini, and crispy breadcrumbs (optional) on top, and you have a recipe for a hearty, satisfying vegetarian main.

Eat with a simple green salad with a nice, acidic dressing for balance.

Baked Ziti Nerano with Zucchini & Provolone

Baked Ziti Nerano with Zucchini & Provolone

Recipe by andrewappetito
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: pasta, mainCuisine: Italian


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Ziti
  • 3/4 cup 3/4 kosher salt, for the pasta water

  • 1 pound 1 dried ziti

  • 2 tablespoons 2 extra-virgin olive oil

  • Zucchini
  • 2 pounds 2 zucchini (about three medium)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 6 6 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane

  • 1 tablespoon 1 chopped thyme (10 to 12 sprigs)

  • 2 medium 2 yellow onions, sliced into thin half-moons

  • 1 tablespoon 1 kosher salt

  • 1 1 -1/2teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons 4 (1/2 stick) (unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons 2 all-purpose or Wondra flour

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon 1 kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 labneh or whole- milk Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 crème fraîche

  • 2 cups 2 coarsely grated sharp hard provolone cheese (8 ounces)

  • To assemble
  • 3 cups 3 coarsely grated mild soft provolone cheese (12 ounces)

  • 1 cup 1 toasted breadcrumbs (optional)


  • In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water and the kosher salt to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the ziti and cook until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes.
  • Drain well, toss with olive oil, return to the empty pot, and set aside.
  • Make the zucchini mixture:
  • Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons. Set aside.
  • In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the grated garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic is soft and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Make the sauce:
  • In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the flour, stirring often with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, ensuring nothing sticks to the pan, until the flour is lightly toasted and loses its raw taste, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Whisk in the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Whisk in the salt, labneh, crème fraîche, and sharp provolone and continue cooking, whisking often, until the sauce is melted and smooth.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Assemble the pasta:
  • To the pot of cooked ziti, add the onion-zucchini mixture, sauce, and mild provolone and mix until well combined.
  • Transfer to a 9 × 13-inch baking dish and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the pasta is golden brown around the top edges, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the dish from front to back halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with bread crumbs, if using.
  • Serve hot, straight out of the baking dish.
  • Leftovers keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months (can be eaten hot or cold).

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