Cacio e Pepe

Ok I have another super simple basic pasta recipe.  If you caught my Cheesy Garlic Pasta post, you’ll notice a trend.  I like cheese.  I promise I make things other than pasta, but it’s such an easy cheap meal to make.  And these pastas are like a hug in your tummy.  Kind of my version of mac and cheese.  Also, I needed to use up some of the pasta I bought at the Farmer’s Market.

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This pasta is bucatini – similar to spaghetti but with a hole running through the center to give it an extra bite.  Another similar pasta is pici pasta.  When I showed my brother Jimmy a picture of my pasta, he replied with, “You are making cacio e pepe, huh?”  See how well he knows me?  We had this pasta when we were in Italy with the family.. By family, I mean the extended Jones family, around 20 of us.  Quite the adventure!  I fell in love with this simple cheese and pepper pasta.

Ok, first I will get all Ina Garten on your butt (whom I love, but is ridiculous about requiring only the BEST ingredients).  You MUST use freshly ground black pepper and good cheese (parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano – or both).  So do not use pre-ground black pepper in that McCormick spice container or that waxy cheese in the shaker that I’m pretty sure doesn’t even require refrigeration.  🙂

Cacio e Pepe – originally from http://www.weareneverfull.com/cacio-e-pepe-a-spicy-creamy-simple-cheap-and-satisfying-roman-meal/  Serves around 3 (depending if you have a side), but it’s really easy to adjust. I divided the recipe when making it just for Geoff and me and served with sauteed veggies.

  • 3/4 pound of spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • a bit of the pasta cooking liquid (just save some of it in a cup and set aside after boiling pasta)
  • Cheese – 1 cup.  Can be 1 c. of pecorino or 1 c. of parmigiano or 1/2 c. of each.  This time I went with 1 c. of the pecorino, but I switch it up depending on what I have

First, boil your spaghetti until al dente.  Remember to reserve some liquid from pasta before draining.  After draining, return your (now empty) pot to the pan.  Try to keep the pasta warm in the meantime. On low-medium heat, add butter, oil, and half the pepper.  Let butter melt.

Add a bit of the cooking liquid to the pot and swirl the pot.  Start by adding a little cooking liquid (around 1/2 c) – you can add more later if the pasta is too thick.  Put the heat on low and add the spaghetti and toss just until warm – you don’t want to overcook your pasta.

Next, turn the heat off.  Add all the cheese and the rest of the pepper and toss the spaghetti again in the pot.  Plate the pasta, garnishing with a little extra grated cheese and grated pepper, if desired.  I’ll take any excuse to add more cheese.

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ENJOY!

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