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Tre Colori Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano + A (Jarred) Old Fashioned #CooktheBooks

I am finally catching my breath and getting on top of my blogging deadlines! Oh, it has been a crazy time. I have cooked things for events and just didn't get around to writing it up. I hate that. I wasn't missing out on this book though because I adore him as an actor and recently discovered his travel documentary Searching for Italy.

For the April-May selection of Cook the Books, Deb from Kahakai Kitchen invited the group to read Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. Read her invitation and join the fun, if you wish, because you still have a month before the deadline.

On the Page

Stanley Tucci is an Italian-American actor who has shared the magic of his family meals in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table. And, as I already mentioned, he has a travel documentary series called Searching for Italy

Taste: My Life Through Food is a memoir whose tone reminds me of others I have devoured. Think Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl (read my post) and Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton (read my post). Tucci writes with candor and a wry humor in this intersection of food and life. He recalls growing up in Westchester, New York where his family made amazing homemade meals; he details preparing and filming foodie flicks Big Night and Julie & Julia; and he narrates how he and his wife managed the COVID-pandemic with days punctuated by juggling a gaggle of kids with meal after meal after meal.

It's clear that Tucci loves food. So it is doubly tragic when he loses his sense of taste and smell during cancer treatment. But he remained stallwart. "But after my diagnosis I discovered that eating, drinking, the kitchen, and the table now play those roles. Food not only feeds me, it enriches me. All of me. Mind, body, and soul. It is nothing more than everything. Cook. Smell. Taste. Eat. Drink. Share. Repeat as necessary."

Here are a couple of passages about his parents' cooking...

"It should be obvious by now that when I was young, my mother spent most of her waking time in the kitchen, and she still does to this day. Cooking for her is at once a creative outlet and a way of feeding her family well. Her cooking, like that of any great cook or chef, is proof that culinary creativity may be the most perfect art form."

"My father’s second go-to Friday night dish was uova fra diavolo. For egg-obsessed people, like my father and me, nothing could be as desirous as this rich, visually stunning meal. Imagine a deep frying pan of delicate red-orange marinara sauce (made with more onions than usual for extra sweetness), in which six to eight eggs are poached. The result, as its name implies, is positively sinful."

But it is this quotation that embodies the role that food plays in his life...and mirror my own. I love it! "Food was the connective tissue that brought them, again and again, into each other’s homes, backyards, front porches, campsites, beaches, and hearts. The lubricant that is wine ameliorated any squeaky emotional wheels, just as at times it was fuel for any dark and dormant emotional fires." 

A Jarred Old Fashioned

Tucci shares a few cocktails, including a Negroni. But, serendipitiously, I had a jarred cocktail kit that I had to test for an Old Fashioned. Since that didn't require anything other than me pouring booze into a jar and sticking it in the fridge for a week, I'll share his version...

"Purportedly this legendary libation was created in 1806 in upstate New York and is the first drink to be called a 'cocktail.' Whiskey, bitters, sugar, water. That was basically it. By the middle part of that century the cocktail eventually became more and more complex, with the addition of a variety of liquors, like orange curaçao, absinthe, and who knows what else. Drinkers looking for the simpler version would ask for it to be made “the old-fashioned way,” hence its now-famous moniker. I am not a big bourbon drinker but this cocktail is very hard not to want. Here’s how to make it: 1 teaspoon simple syrup A few dashes Angostura bitters 2 shots rye or bourbon Ice Orange slice and cherry, to garnish Pour the simple syrup into an 'old-fashioned glass,' meaning a rocks glass."

As for the food in the book, you can imagine that there are a lot of recipes. I was inspired to make a fish stew - keep an eye out for that soon - and look for a post about pizzoccheri, too. I have never heard about that, but it sounds delicious. But the recipe I am sharing today is his... 

Tre Colori Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano

Okay, his wasn't a three-colored pasta, but it's what I had. This is a recipe he learned at Lo Scoglio from Antonia though she held back an ingredient. Tucci shares, "I have just recently returned from Lo Scoglio, where I watched Antonia’s brother Tomasso make this dish. On the table were all the ingredients... plus… one other. A small dollop of butter! I KNEW IT! PS: Antonia and I still remain friendly, but I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. I’m kidding. I would do anything for her and her family. Always and ever." My recipe is slightly adapted, but still amazing. I will definitely be making this again as summer is approaching and that always brings a glut of zucchini!

Ingredients serves 4
  • 8 cups thinly sliced zucchini (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup freshly chopped basil
  • 3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Also needed: pasta cooked al dente with 2 cups of cooking water reserved


Pour oil in a large pot and heat until shimmering. Add in the zucchini and fry until softened. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup chopped basil and stir to wilt. Add in the cooked pasta. Then pour in the pasta cooking water, a little bit at a time, until a creamy sauce forms. Stir in 2 cups of Parmigiano. Toss with more cooking water until desired texture. 

Fold in the remaining cheese and basil. And serve immediately.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

In addition to submitting this to #CooktheBooks, I am adding it to #FoodieReads.
Click to see what everyone else read in May 2022: here.


  1. I have this recipe earmarked as well. It looked so good when I saw it on Searching for Italy, so I was thrilled when it was in the memoir.

  2. Yes! I tagged this one too--it looks so simple and so good! Thanks for joining in with us.


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