Cacio e Pepe is about as simple as it gets, spaghetti with cheese, butter, and a borderline alarming amount of freshly ground black pepper. Yet somehow this is all you need for a truly awesome pasta experience. Let's dig in.
I'm settling into summer slowly but surely. I've been enjoying the gift of waking up in the morning with an agenda entirely of my choosing. I'm guessing for most people that agenda would be a bit emptier, but that's just not my style.
I never thought of myself as ambitious before. To me that word always had a negative connotation of shoving people out of your way to get to the top. But I'm learning that I want a lot of big things for myself, and I can do that in a way that's safe and compassionate. I hope I can be ambitious and inclusive and bring a lot of people along with me. It feels pretty good.
What makes Cacio e Pepe so awesome?
If you're looking for a little more simplicity this summer, you've gotta make some Cacio e Pepe. I realize I may be the last food blogger in the world to share a version of this, but I've always been terrible at trends. If a thing is good, it's good all the time. In case you don't know already, this is quite simply pasta with cheese and pepper. Yes, this is aggressively peppery. The fire builds slowly with each forkful, and I absolutely love it.
Because there are so few ingredients involved, you want them to be as good as you can get. I have been in a place where a wedge of Italian cheese would seem like an unbelievable extravagance, but I'm gonna ask you to please not use the stuff in the green jar just this once. You can go all out and get a chunk of pecorino from the Italian deli or be lazy like me and just buy a wedge of parmesan from the grocery store because that's all they had. It'll be fine. You just want to grate it yourself.
How to make Cacio e Pepe
Making this is not complicated, but to bring out the best in each ingredient, it is a bit labor intensive. Start by boiling some spaghetti. That's the easy part. While the water is boiling, you'll want to grind a couple teaspoons of black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. You want a nice fine grind, so pass this through a mesh sieve. I gave it about three rounds of grinding and sieving, probably because my arms aren't very strong. You don't need to grind all of it. Just discard the big chunks once you think you've got enough pepper.
You'll also want to freshly grate your cheese as finely as possible. I used my microplane zester. It took a while, but the cheese was like snow. It's a thing of beauty.
When the pasta is just about cooked, add a big hunk of butter to a skillet and melt it with the black pepper. Just swirl it together. Then when the pasta is cooked, don't drain it. Just use tongs to lift it right into the skillet, bringing along some of the starchy pasta water. You can add a little more water if you think it's too dry. Toss the pasta in the butter and pepper mixture. Then remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle your finely grated cheese over the top. Walk away for one minute to let it start to melt. Finally, toss the cheese through. You can do that fancy chef wrist flick with the pan if you're feeling confident, or toss it gently with your tongs.
Then all that's left to do is dish it up and go to town.
Nope. I cheated and used Parmesan cheese instead of Pecorino Romano cheese which is the real deal. Feel free to swap that out if you've got access. It's still good with parm, though, if that's easier for you to find.
Make it magical
Black pepper is probably found in every kitchen in the world, so you'll be happy to know it's got powerful magical properties. Black pepper is great for protection and releasing negative energy. Associated with fire, Mars, and masculine energy, it can also evoke a fiery confidence and warrior spirit. (Source: Rachel Patterson)
This recipe, with all it's grinding and grating is excellent for working in your intention. Maybe make it when you need to face something you're afraid of to protect you and give you courage.
Simple can be awesome, kids. This Cacio e Pepe is proof of that. Make it once, and you'll be hooked.Print
Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e Pepe is about as simple as it gets, spaghetti with cheese, butter, and a borderline alarming amount of freshly ground black pepper. Yet somehow this is all you need for a truly awesome pasta experience.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- 300 grams dried spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 80 grams Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Put a large pot of water on to boil, then add salt and cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. I always check mine at a minute less than it says on the packet, just in case.
- In the meantime, grind your peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. This will be hard work. Try to grind it finely. Pass your pepper through a mesh sieve, collecting the finely ground pepper in a bowl. I returned what was left in the sieve to grind again two times before finally discarding whatever was left behind.
- You'll also want to grate your Parmesan cheese (or whatever hard Italian cheese you're using) as finely as possible. I used my microplane zester for this. Again, this is hard work, but totally worth it. Have the cheese and pepper ready to go by the time the pasta is cooked.
- When the pasta is nearly ready, add the ground pepper and the buter to a skillet over low heat. Once your butter is melted and your pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer your pasta from the water directly into the skillet. Don't worry about draining the water off. You want some of that starchy pasta water to come along fo the ride. Toss the pasta in the peppery butter.
- Turn the heat off and sprinkle over the cheese then walk away for one minute, allowing it to melt a bit. Toss everything together in the pan as gently as possible. Serve hot.
Keywords: pasta recipe
Recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver.
If you try this recipe, I'd love for you to leave a rating and a comment and let me know how it went. Thanks so much!