Cacio E Pepe literally translated means “cheese and pepper”.  Traditionally, this Italian dish uses freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan, and loads of freshly-cracked black peppercorns for the pepper. We love whipping up this recipe for something simple and delicious! Of course, you could make a delicious meal simply by tossing some pasta with butter and Parmesan.  But the secret is all in this cooking…

Ingredients

  1. Pasta: We recommend bucatini, spaghetti, or linguine.
  2. Pecorino or Parmesan: A good, aged Pecorino cheese is traditional, but Parmesan (or a blend of the two) works well also.  MUST use freshly-grated cheese for this dish.  The pre-grated stuff in the refrigerated section won’t melt well into this sauce, and will instead make it all clumpy and weird.  Trust me.
  3. Freshly-cracked black pepper
  4. Butter: we use butter in the sauce for flavor, but you could also sub in olive oil if you prefer.

Directions

  1. Cook your pasta.  In a large stockpot full of generously-salted water , boil your pasta until it just barely al dente.  You want to avoid over-cooking the pasta here since it will cook a bit more in the pan with the sauce.
  2. Make your sauce.  Multitasking!  At about the same time that you add the pasta to the boiling water, add your butter to a large sauté pan (large enough to hold the pasta) and melt over medium-heat.  Then add in your black pepper and let it cook for another minute or so.  Then very carefully, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the starchy hot pasta water and add it to the butter mixture, which will immediately bubble up.  Give it a good whisk to combine.  Then remove pan from heat, wait for 3 minutes, add in the grated cheese, and whisk quickly until completely combined.
  3. Combine the pasta and the sauce.  Then, once the pasta and sauce are ready to go, reserve an extra 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water from the stockpot and set it aside.  Strain your pasta completely, and let it rest for 2-3 minutes to cool off a tiny bit.  Then add half of your pasta to the sauce, give it a good toss, add the remaining, and toss until combined.  The heat of the pasta will help to melt the cheese and form that silky, luxurious sauce.  That said — if the sauce starts to look a little dry, don’t hesitate to add in a splash or two of that reserved starchy pasta water.
  4. Serve and enjoy!  I recommend topping yours with a little extra cheese and pepper.
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