Hands down, my all time favorite Roman cuisine! Cacio e Pepe, traditionally served as a rustic pasta dish, literally translates to “cheese and pepper.” As the name suggests, only a few ingredients are needed. I love this dish for several reasons: its an authentic meal, it’s incredibly simple, yet unbelievably decadent. When I was first served this dish while abroad, I was actually blown away with how complex the flavors were. It were as if, the pasta melted in my mouth. The generous amount of black pepper, offers a spicy and toasty flavor, where as the Pecorino cheese, leave this sharp and smoky touch. To the naked eye, Cacio e Pepe may just look like pasta with cheese, but I am here to tell you, its an instant mouthgasm.
In fact, I took a cooking class while abroad, where a local chef taught us step by step, the complexity of the pan-sauce precision needed for this dish. Although the ingredients are minimal and the recipe is simple to follow, there is a technique required to get the pasta: 1) al dente and 2) at a consistency where the Pecorino coats the creamy twirl of noodles.
I’ve noticed that American chef’s prepare the dish differently than in Rome, but I will be following the authentic way I was taught. I have however, altered the ingredients just a bit, (by excluding butter), in order to recreate a healthier version of the meal.
P.S. I made this dish for last week’s meal prep, so I prepared enough for an entire week.
What you’ll need:
- 1 package of Organic Spaghetti Pasta
- 1 lb cut Pecorino Romano (grate 1/2)
- 6 TBS Olive Oil (I used Grape seed oil)
- 1 TSP ground black pepper
- 2 TBS of butter (optional)
- Add grapeseed oil to medium skillet on low heat. Soon after, raise the heat to medium-low and grind in the pepper until it sizzles. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Grab a large skillet and toss in Spaghetti. Eyeball just enough water to cover the pasta. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir until the pasta is almost al dente.
- The splash of water allows for extra starchy pasta water which we will use for a creamier sauce.
- Simultaneously, grate 1/2 of the Pecorino Cheese into a mixing bowl and add just enough pasta water to cover the cheese. Stir vigorously until a sauce forms to prevent clumping.
- (You can also grate the cheese and toss directly into pasta)
- Now spoon out 3-5 TBS of pasta water to the oil/pepper mixture. Stir in butter (optional). Transfer the pasta using tongs into pan.
- MAKE SURE to save remaining pasta water. Swap out pans on heat
- Pour cheese over your pasta and toss! Turn off heat soon after.
- I like to add a hint of oil to reinforce that the sauce sticks to the pasta yet still flows nicely.
I know each step may sound excessive but remember, the heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta. I promise, if you follow these directions exactly, you will have created one of the best dishes around! Xo