I really love Roman cuisine, especially the pasta dishes. I have featured classics like Carbonara, Buccatini all’Amatriciana and Spaghetti alla Gricia here in the past. Cacio e Pepe is another one to add to our repertoire of crowd pleasing Roman pasta dishes.
Cacio e Pepe literally means cheese and pepper, which are the two main ingredients, and this simple ingredient list belies the challenges in achieving the perfect consistency for this dish. You don’t want clumps of cheese, you want the pasta coated well, and you need a bit of a creamy sauce to form (not too saucy, just enough so the pasta is not too dry). I have found that stirring in stages: first coat with olive oil, then stir in cheese and lastly add and stir in the some of the pasta cooking water, really helps give that nice even consistency. Adding that starchy pasta cooking water in the final stage helps create the sauce.
- ½ pound of spaghetti
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
- Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil, and add the spaghetti. Cook until the pasta is almost al dente.
- Meanwhile, put the extra-virgin olive oil into a large saute pan and grind a good amount of pepper into it. Then heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then strain the pasta and add to the pan with the olive oil and toss to coat the pasta.
- Next, add the cheese to the pasta and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Finally, add ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan and stir more, until a creamy sauce is formed. If sauce is too dry add some more of the cooking water.
- Transfer to serving plates, grind a little more fresh pepper on top and serve with extra grated Pecorino-Romano cheese on the side.
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