Do you love pasta? Good me too. See I didn’t even have to wait for you to tell me you lurrvvee pasta. Because who doesn’t?
Of course if you’re keto, carnivore, or a low-carber….carbs are the death knell. I know. I know. I practice low-carb 80% of the time. I need to fit back into my jeans because yoga pants lie.
But if you can give yourself a night to enjoy the carbs then you need to make this Cacio e Pepe recipe for dinner tonight. Literally “cheese and pepper” in Italian.
This is a luxe minimal Roman macaroni and cheese. It’s one of the most ancient dishes of Italian cuisine. It sustained Roman shepherds because you could pack it easily in your bag and it wouldn’t spoil in the outdoors.
That’s right Madge, make it tonight. It’s so soothing and delicious you’ll be in a better mood once you enjoy this velvety cheesy treat.
Best of all you only need four ingredients. Butter is optional (and not traditional most Italian people would hate it) but I love it and it makes it taste so much more indulgent.
Use a thick-cut pasta, it makes a difference. The thicker the pasta the more it allows the cheese sauce to stick to it better.
Cacio e Pepe Recipe (Serves 2 or 1 if really hungry)
- 8 oz pasta (I prefer Bucatini, linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti)
- 3/4 cup fresh grated Grana Padano Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (Pecorino Romano is the traditional choice, it’s my preferred option. Don’t use anything that’s pre-grated. You won’t be able to create the silky sauce with that stuff.)
- 1 tsp coarse freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- 1 1/2 cup reserved starchy pasta water
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
How to make it:
1. Cook the pasta. Use a large stockpot. Bring water to a rolling boil then add a generous handful of salt. Once boiling add pasta until just barely done (al dente). Look at the recommend cooking time on your pasta box and then subtract two minutes from it.
2. Grate the cheese while the pasta is boiling.
3. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and set aside.
4. Dump out pasta in a colander.
5. Turn off heat and put the pot back on the burner.
6. Add 1 tbsp of butter, 3/4 cup water, and pasta back into the pot. Stir with tongs quickly to coat every pasta strand for at least two minutes.
7. Add all but two tablespoons of the cheese, toss quickly! Keep tossing!
8. Your sauce should be creamy and coated around the pasta. Slowly add in the reserved pasta water, remaining butter, and keep tossing until the sauce is as silky as you like. Finish with black pepper and the remaining cheese. Serve immediately.
What Should You Drink With this Cacio e Pepe Recipe?
I enjoy Aldi’s Adventure Series Chianti DOCG, mainly from Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy.
With flavors of black cherry, red currants, violets, cranberry, a little hit of mint, a touch of leather and dirt gives this medium-bodied wine a solid mouthfeel and great value for the tiny price tag of $5.50 per bottle. Get it!
Some other fabulous wine pairing options for this cacio e pepe recipe are:
– Chianti Classico – Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico 2017, Tuscany, Italy
– Pinot Noir – Maison Noir Other People’s Pinot Noir or Meiomi Pinot Noir
– Villa Antinori Toscana 2016 from Tuscany, Italy
– Sauvignon Blanc – Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Malborough, New Zealand
– Prosecco – Cupcake
– Pinot Grigio – Zenato Pinot Grigio 2018, Veneto, Italy