I first tasted this dish on my last trip to Rome. It was practically on every menu and it’s simplicity mirrored La Dolce Vita so well that I finally gave in to its temptations. After a morning of sightseeing and culture-imbibing, it was definitely time to give my feet a rest and my tummy a treat.
Cacio e Pepe simply means ‘cheese and black pepper’. Sounds simple, but it tastes great! Considering the fact that this dish contains very few ingredients, it is important to get good quality ingredients. In this case it will make all the difference.
For 2 persons:
250g of spaghetti or spaghettini (I’ve also seen this dish served with bucatini) cooked in about 2 cups boiling water and a pinch of salt. You’re going to remove this from the heat about 3 minutes before you usually would, leaving it under-cooked for the moment.
1 tablespoon freshly, coarsely grated pepper, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
Drain your under-cooked pasta but reserve the pasta water. Add the pasta water (about 2 ladles), butter or oil and pepper to a pan on medium heat and stir for a couple of minutes. Step back quickly as this is likely to splatter.
Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss through the water mixture until the pasta absorbs almost all of the water. Remove from the heat, and add the grated cheese to the pasta, quickly stirring it in.
Garnish with more grated pepper and cheese to taste. You may even garnish with Parmesan if you prefer.