One of the most basic and tasty pasta dishes around, cacio e pepe is unsurprisingly super trendy. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple and include only black pepper, cheese and pasta. Cacio e pepe recipe stands or falls by its method, the alchemy that turns dry cheese and water into creamy sauce. But don’t let that scare you, the only precaution to be taken in preparing this dish is to leave some of the hot cooking water with the pasta: the heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta.
I first found the dish on the New York Times cooking sites and immediately I knew that this was a recipe for me. It is basically macaroni and cheese in fancy, Italian wrapping – what’s not to love? In addition it’s filling, and one serving is more than enough for dinner. You can have cheese and pasta and stay within your calorie budget – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Post title from “Simple Things” by Amy Grant.
- 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino Romano, plus more for dusting completed dish.
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, plus more for finishing the dish.
- ¾ pound spaghetti.
- Good olive oil.
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
- In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and black pepper; mash with just enough cold water to make a thick paste. Spread the paste evenly in the bowl.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta.
- The second before it is perfectly cooked, transfer it quickly with thongs to the bowl, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water.
- Stir vigorously to coat the pasta, adding a teaspoon or two of olive oil and a bit of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if necessary. The sauce should cling to the pasta and be creamy but not watery.
- Plate and dust each dish with additional pecorino and pepper. Serve immediately.