Cacio e Pepe, which literally translates to cheese and pepper, is a simple four ingredient dish that will satisfy your pasta cravings.

The dish dates back to the Roman empire and is considered one of the oldest dishes in Italian cuisine. 

As its name suggests, the recipe consists of black pepper and freshly grated pecorino romano. The creamy sauce is made by adding a bit of warm pasta water to the other ingredients which helps to bind the cheese. 

Unlike many modern recipes of the dish that tend to incorporate heavy cream or butter to the dish, the traditional one does not include any extra ingredients. 

Since Roman shepherds were one of the first to enjoy this tasty dish, few ingredients were readily available, allowing the shepherds to make do with what they had.

Nowadays, cacio e pepe is seen on nearly every Italian restaurants’ menu, but if you’d like to recreate this dish at home, follow the recipe below!

Recipe

  • Toast whole peppercorns over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes to extract the oils. Transfer to mortar and grind to a medium coarse grind. Add back to your pan with the heat off.
  • Cook your spaghetti in salted water. 2 minutes before the pasta is done, reserve 2 cups of pasta water and let cool to about 150F or 70C – to avoid lumpy cheese!
  • Still off the heat, add 3/4 of your grated cheese to your peppercorns along with a 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time, stirring until you get a loose, but emulsified sauce.
  • Add your drained pasta and mix. Add additional pasta water and mix if the sauce is too thick.
  • Top with grated cheese (optional)
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water, cooled to about 150F / the 70C
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

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