What do you do when you only have 15 minutes to make dinner and hardly any ingredients in the pantry? You make cacio el pepe. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember, and is a recipe I continued to cook throughout my 20s, and now for Dusty and Jason. I am not afraid to serve up a peppery meal for Dusty, in fact he loves this dish.
There are a few ways to make cacio e pepe, and everyone has a slightly different method depending on which cheese and pasta you like to use. Also some people prefer not to add any salt, but I do. It’s the perfect recipe for people on the go because you only need a few ingredients, it’s super simple to make, you can whip it up in a short amount of time, and it’s very flavourful.
- 500g dry pasta of your choice. We love Orecchiette, which cooks in 12 minutes and Casarecce, which cooks in 9 minutes. We chose Casarecce for this recipe, but spaghetti is also delicious! Depending on the pasta you choose, dry or fresh, simply adjust the cooking time as per the instructions on the packet.
- 300g pecorino romano very finely grated, plus extra to serve
- 150g parmigiano reggiano very finely grated, plus extra to serve
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
- 2 tsp sea salt (we love Maldon), plus extra to serve
- Big knob of butter
- Place a large pot of water over high heat, bring to the boil and throw some salt into the water. Add the pasta and stir well to ensure no pasta sticks to the bottom of the pot. I like to cook pasta at least one to two minutes less than the time indicated on the packet to get my pasta “al dente”.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, throw in the knob of butter.
- Drain the pasta when it’s ready.
- Set aside some of the pasta water aside.
- Add the pasta to the large bowl and mix well so the butter melts and coats the pasta.
- Mix in the grated pecorino and grated parmigiano just until the cheese melts.
- Gradually stir in some of the pasta water you put aside, one tablespoon at a time until the sauce coats the pasta completely. You may only need one to three tablespoons so use your judgement. You should have the consistency of cheesy cream.
- Season with salt and black pepper to suit your taste and mix together.
- Divide the pasta between four bowls, and sprinkle extra cheese, salt and pepper on top if you’d like. Serve straight away and enjoy!