Cacio e Pepe
A healthy rē•spin on an Italian classic.
Directly translated, Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” in Italian, the two hero ingredients of the dish. This luxurious pasta has been a staple in Roman cuisine for centuries – and we can understand why! Instead of using heavy cream to make the sauce, this recipe incorporates the starchy water used to cook the pasta. As a result, it is a healthier and more elegant version of mac and cheese.
Although the ingredients are simple, some technique is required to achieve the sauce’s creamy consistency. To ensure you are left with a flavorsome and perfectly emulsified sauce, we have created a few easy steps for you to follow. One of our main tips is to transfer the cooked pasta into the evoo and pepper skillet, to bring the dish together. Keeping the Pecorino separate and adding it to the final step will ensure the sauce does not clump.
The ingredients in Cacio e Pepe are the secret to achieving the deepest flavor and smoothest texture. You can’t compromise on the quality of any of them. If you use freshly cracked black pepper, good cheese, and the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil you can get your hands on (we suggest The Governor), you’ll achieve the best results.
Cacio e Pepe
- Four tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup), very finely grated, plus more for serving
Method of Preparation:
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of black pepper in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
- Cook the ingredients until they become fragrant and the pepper sizzles (approximately 1 minute). Set aside.
- Cook the pasta until al dente (typically 1 minute less than the package instructions).
- Transfer 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the skillet with the olive oil/pepper mixture. Stir in butter.
- Transfer the spaghetti to the oil/butter mixture using tongs.
- Add cheese and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and stir until the cheese is melted.
- Add a few more tablespoons of pasta water to the skillet to adjust consistency, reheating as necessary until the sauce is creamy and coats each strand of spaghetti.
- Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, garnishing the dish with extra grated cheese.