Cacio e Pepe is a gateway to the world of pasta. It belongs to the original four classic Roman pasta dishes. As the name from Italian suggests, the recipe consists of two basic ingredients, namely cheese and black pepper. At first glance, it may seem kinda boring, but this dish can undoubtedly pleasantly surprise you.
With the right technique, you can make full use of the potential and harmony of these two ingredients. However, what you absolutely need are two things: pasta water and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Pecorino Romano is a cheese made with sheep’s milk, which is characterized by its tangy aroma and salinity. It comes from the Lazio region and is part of many Italian, especially Roman pasta dishes. If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, you can also use Parmesan (but real stuff).
However, since cheese is the main ingredient in the Cacio e Pepe recipe, Pecorino is definitely the right choice.
If you have whole black peppercorns, do not hesitate to use them. By crushing or grinding the whole peppercorns, you will achieve a fresher and more intense taste. Moreover, the more quality the peppercorns, the better. Before grinding, you can also gently toast them in a pan to release an even better aroma.
Two ways to prepare pasta Cacio e Pepe
I like classic spaghetti for this recipe. The quality of the pasta is also a deciding factor. Cheap spaghetti doesn’t hold the sauce well and it may seem that the spaghetti is drier and all the sauce is on the bottom of the plate.
While the spaghetti is cooked in well-salted water, mix the freshly grated cheese with a little pasta water. Add lightly toasted and freshly ground black pepper to the pan on medium-low heat. Before the pasta is al dente, transfer it straight from the pot to the pan.
Add the cheese mixture and mix well. If necessary, add pasta water until a perfectly creamy sauce is formed. Don’t be afraid to add more, as the pasta will get a little thicker when served.
Another way is even easier, where you don’t even need a pan. Add freshly ground black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese to the plate. If the spaghetti is al dente, add it straight to a plate and mix well. Here you can also add pasta water as needed.Print