“Cacio e Pepe” literally means “Cheese and Pepper”. That’s pretty much it. It only has FOUR ingredients! (plus the water and salt, of course). We’ve been talking about making this recipe for awhile now. It is apparently one of THE four classic pasta dishes from which all pasta dishes start. It is so simple yet so delicious, I don’t know why we waited so long! (Oh wait, I remember it is because we have to drive an HOUR away to find some Pecorino Romano….but OH MY! I’m in love with this cheese! Totally worth it!!). I’ve also just recently discovered Bucatini noodles (thick cut, spaghetti-type noodle but with a hole in the center to soak up any sauce even better!). This noodle has a really great bite and I’ve used it in a few other recipes recently, which I loved. This recipe usually calls for a thick-cut spaghetti but I still wanted to try it with the Bucatini, so I did! I have to say it was very scrumptious, although I’m afraid the sauce soaked up a little too well. So, if you’re a saucy kinda person, in which case just use a quality spaghetti noodle (I included alternative directions to create more sauce, should you prefer that way instead). Personally, I don’t mind the less-saucy finish, it’s all bout the flavor and bite of the noodle to me anyway. But DO be sure to buy the correct cheese and use freshly ground pepper. You’ll be so glad you did. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as we did! Bon Appétit!
Cacio e PepePrint Recipe
- 12 oz Bucatini or thick-cut spaghetti
- 1 1/2-2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for serving
- (Salt for water and to taste at end)
Using a shallow pan (wide enough for noodles and deep enough to hold about 1 inch water), bring to a boil. Add 1-2 Tbsp of salt, so that it tastes like broth (don't over salt, you can add some at the end as needed). Add noodles to the boiling water, spreading them out the get them all in the water. Stir several times throughout cooking to prevent noodles from sticking to each other.
While the noodles cook, heat a small shallow pan over low heat and add pepper, toasting it for about 2 minutes to help release the oils, hence releasing more flavor. Grate the cheese and have ready to go.
When all the pasta water is just about evaporated (bottom of pan should still be coated with the starchy water) and noodles are al dente, remove from heat. Add the olive oil, toasted pepper and half of the cheese to the noodles. Using tongs or 2 large forks, toss vigorously to coat evenly. Add the rest of the cheese and continue to toss until all incorporated and cheese has melted into the noodles. Taste and add salt to taste, if needed.
Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with more cheese and finish with a little drizzle of the olive oil, then enjoy!
For a creamier sauce, cook the pasta is in a large pot of salty water (in this case, you will want to salt the water to taste like sea water). While noodles cook, toast the pepper and place it along with olive oil in a large bowl. When noodles are al dente, DO NOT DRAIN WATER (you will need it to add it to the pasta as desired). Instead, use tongs to transfer the noodles directly from the pot into the bowl with pepper and oil, then toss to coat the noodles. Add the cheese and toss vigorously until cheese melts into noodles. Add some of the pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, to the noodles to create a more creamy sauce. Then serve with the finishing touches the same as above. Enjoy!