Get ready for a lot of Italian recipes! This time last year Dwight and I were tasting our way through Barolo and Alba Italy. So I guess it makes sense I’m on a bit of an Italian kick right now.
What’s so great about Italian food is the seasonal simplicity of it. You cook in season and you buy great ingredients. You don’t buy store bought, pre-ground Parmesan (because apparently it’s filled with wood chips) or veal in the fall versus the spring or asparagus in the winter.
Even thought there isn’t any vegetables or meat in cacio e pepe (which is basically pasta with cheese and pepper) it exemplifies simple, easy, ingredient driven Italian cuisine. It’s olive oil, butter, freshly ground pepper tossed with some pasta and it’s water. That is it. If you buy pre-ground pepper – it’s not going to be that great. If you skimp on buying Pecorino Romana or Parmesan – it’s not going to be great.
Related Article: 6-Ingredient Cooking
As simple as this recipe for cacio e pepe is, there are a couple things to keep in mind when making it.
- You want to let the pepper bloom in some olive oil and butter before adding the pasta, cheese and water. You are basically extracting all the flavor and bite you can from the pepper as it infuses into the butter and oil mixture.
- Try to buy the best cheese you possibly can for this recipe. You need to freshly grate it so that it sticks to the pasta. If you don’t do this, it won’t cling and make the creamy sauce that makes this pasta.
- KEEP STIRRING! It’s a constant moving and mixing of pasta water, a bit of cheese, a bit more pasta water, cheese – a touch of butter – but always mixing.
If you keep those things in mind, you’ll have dinner on the table in 15 minutes. However, if you are anything like me, you are going to need some veggies to go with it. I recommend roasting some asparagus or broccolini in salt, pepper and olive oil in the oven while the pasta is cooking. Or you can make a kale caesar salad. That’s kinda good too 🙂
Oh – so before I forget. If you are afraid of the butter or cheese in this dish, you could use a little, tiny bit less. However, I ate this an hour or two before a mtb ride on some fatigued legs and I ended up having a strong’ish ride. It gave me loads of energy – so there’s that I guess 😉
Related Recipe: Italian Eggs and Spaghetti
Italian Cacio e Pepe
- 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound spaghetti or any other long pasta
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
- kosher salt
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt and add in the spaghetti. Make sure you stir every now and then because you don't want it to stick.
- While the pasta is cooking. Heat a skillet to medium heat with the pepper. After a few seconds (10-15) add in the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted, take off the heat and set aside.
- When the pasta is al dente, strain but make sure you reserve 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the water.
- Place the skillet back on the heat and add in half the water. Let it quickly incorporate into the pepper mixture. Add in the pasta and stir, add in half the cheese and stir, add in more water and stir and then more cheese. At this point it should be coating the pasta. If it's a bit "loose" add in a bit more butter or cheese until it's bound.
Sugar Conscious, Kidney Friendly, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Pork Free, Red Meat Free, Alcohol Free, No Sugar Added, Kosher