In the wonderful of pasta, one of the most recognizably Roman dishes is the simple “Cacio e Pepe.” Literally translated as cheese and pepper, the dish highlights the simplicity of Italian cuisine. It’s like a fancy Italian macaroni and cheese really. The cooking liquid from the pasta added to olive oil swimming with crackling pepper thickens the sauce as it were and freshly grated Pecorino makes it that more luscious and creamy.
And so while I’ve begun to master filled pastas, I wanted to take a step back for a moment for the simplest pasta you’ll ever make! If you want to try homemade pasta at home for the first time, this would be a great introduction.
And so, this post is as short as this dish is simple to prepare. It’s a great weeknight meal – simple to whip up with only a few ingredients on hand. If all you have is Parmesan in the way of cheeses, feel free to sub that in for the Pecorino as well. Whether you make the pasta from scratch or just use a box of dried pasta, you really can’t go wrong with Cacio e Pepe!
- 2 pounds dried spaghetti (or homemade)
- 3½ cups Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot (at least 12 quarts) of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.
- Return pasta and cooking water to the pot and place over low heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese and butter have melted and formed a creamy sauce, about 5 minutes.
- Season with salt, and serve with additional cheese if desired.