Cacio e Pepe…One of my absolute favorite pasta dishes! To be completely transparent with you, I couldn’t wait to make it for you because it meant that I would have an EPIC lunch! Let’s dive into it. Cacio e Pepe is a quick yet tricky Roman dish. Cacio e Pepe literally translates to “cheese and pepper,” which are the base of the sauce.
Forget cream, butter, or even oil. We are making a traditional cacio e pepe spaghetti team! Often made with spaghetti, Pecorino Romano, and pepper, in this recipe, we add some Parmigiano Reggiano for a cheesy sauce. All you need is high-quality cheese, pepper, dry pasta, and a little bit of technique!
How to make a creamy sauce without cream?
In traditional cacio e pepe, there is no cream, olive, or butter. Yet the sauce is silky, creamy, and luscious. But how? The magic comes from the starchy pasta water. For this recipe, I recommend keeping about 1 cup of pasta water. The pasta water will create a beautiful emulsion and the base of the sauce. Chef’s tip: add 1/3 cup of pasta water to the toasted pepper and grated cheese. Then stir in the pasta, and add another 1/3 cup of water. Adjust if needed.
Why should I toast the pepper?
I recommend using whole black peppercorn, toasting it, and then grinding it yourself for more flavor. You might wonder why toasting the pepper and not just sprinkling it on top of the pasta. Dry toasting the pepper (directly onto the pan) enhances the aroma and allows the flavor to bloom. It adds a beautiful smoky and sharp flavor to any dish.
What are the benefits of black pepper?
Black pepper is a kitchen staple often paired with salt. It adds flavor to any dish. But is it good for you? The short answer is yes. Yes, it is. Pepper is rich in antioxidants. It might help with inflammation and boosts the absorption of other nutrients such as calcium and selenium. Don’t be shy! Add some pepper to your life!
- 16 oz Spaghetti
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn or 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup pecorino, grated
- ⅔ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1 cup pasta water
- In a pot on medium-high heat, bring your salted water to a boil. Add your pasta. Cook 2 minutes less than the packaging recommends (about 8 minutes).
- Drain your pasta. Keep 1 cup of the cooking water.
- In a pan on medium-high heat, toast the pepper for 5 minutes. Add ⅓ cup of pasta water and half of the grated cheese. Mix regularly.
- Stir in your pasta, add ⅓ cup water and add the rest of the grated cheese. Sprinkle salt.