Cacio e Pepe

Photo Francine Zaslow

Cacio e pepe is a pasta dish from modern Roman cuisine. Cacio e pepe means “cheese and pepper” in several central Italian dialects. The ingredients of the dish are simple: black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese,(some recipes mix in some Parmesan cheese) and spaghetti.


         3 to 4 ounces of uncooked bronze thick pasta

         2 tablespoons good quality, coarsely ground black pepper such as                                  Tellicherry

         1 ½ cups freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese with a Microplane, plus more for garnish 


Boil the pasta in half the amount of salted water you would regular use. Cook, al dente, 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain reserving the water. 

A few minutes before the time is up for cooking the pasta, add the freshly ground pepper to a non-stick skillet. Heat on high for several second, shack the pan until you smell the aroma of the roasted pepper. Then add one ladle of the pasta water to the pan. The starch in the water helps prevents lumps in the sauce.

Constantly stir the liquid until it had reduced by half and turn heat to low.

Put the cheese in a small bowl, stir in a half a ladle of the pasta water, beat with a whisk, to make a creamy thick sauce. Add more water if necessary.

Turn the heat to high on the pepper, add the pasta and the pecorino cream sauce, 

Quickly toss and stir gently to combine the two. Add more pasta water and continue mixing to combine. When the pasta is cooked and the creamy sauce had thickened slightly, the Cacio e pepe is ready, Divide between two warm bowls, sprinkle with more fresh black pepper and pecorino cheese.

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