Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper)

Total time: Just under an hour, only because (surprise!) I forgot to start the water until I was already most of the way through prepping. Should take closer to 30 minutes.

Source: The New Family Cookbook (Also found it Tasting Italy and, I’m sure, others)

Servings: 4-5


super exciting, I know…

This has slowly become our go-to “We don’t have any leftovers for lunch” standby. It’s quick and easy and delicious and we keep all of the ingredients on-hand. I just need to remember to boil the water at the beginning and that using the right amount of water instead of just boiling a bunch of water is important.

Basically, the process is as follows: Grate a bunch of Pecorino Romano, whisk in pasta water to make a beautiful-looking sauce, whisk in cream, olive oil, and pepper to make it even more beautiful, and toss the spaghetti in the sauce. Put the tasty goodness in the bowl and add even more cheese.

So much cheese. Cheese everywhere.

I usually grate cheese over a bowl on a scale to measure as I go, which is fine and good for an ounce or two of cheese but really tiring for four ounces, so about halfway through I changed methods: Place block of cheese on the parchment paper it stays wrapped in in the fridge*, go crazy with the Microplane, and dump the contents into the bowl periodically. I grated two ounces in less time than it had taken to grate a single ounce. Also, I love the Microplane because you can contour your grating and get super close to the rind with those edges.

This is really a dish best served fresh, but I’ve managed decent leftovers with it as well. The extra pasta water is key here. I’ve yet to use more than a cup of pasta water in the sauce initially, but I mix in an extra half cup or more into the leftovers because it loosens the cheese from the bowl and allows the pasta to be heated up the next day without drying it out too much.

It’s just so pretty, you needed a close-up.

*Tried and true method (aka ATK’s recommended method) for storing hard cheese: Wrap in parchment paper, then wrap in aluminum foil or place in zipper bag, depending on the size, shape, and hardness of the cheese. I usually wrap things like Parmesan and Pecorino Romano in foil and put things like cheddar in zipper bags. I vacuum-seal crumbly like goat and feta, though only if it’ll be a few days before I finish them off. Feta works better in the vacuum-seal zipper bags because you can stop the vacuum before the brine gets vacuumed into the machine while maintaining a good seal. Effective cheese storage has been life-changing.


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