If you are looking for an easy dinner recipe that uses only pantry staples and comes together in 20 minutes, look no further than Cacio e Pepe! This is one of my family’s favorite recipes because it is so simple and delicious. Cacio e Pepe is a Roman pasta dish that relies on the simple flavors of black pepper and parmesan cheese that come together to make a silky sauce that covers every noodle. So gather up your ingredients and let’s get cooking:
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 6 T butter (either salted or unsalted)
- 2 t ground pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Step 1. Fill a stock pot with heavily salted (and I mean heavy—the salt is key to bringing out the flavor of the pepper and cheese). Once boiling, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
Step 2. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over low heat. Add the black pepper and let the melted butter infuse with the pepper flavor for a few minutes.
Step 3. Grate the Parmesan cheese. Important note: you need fresh Parm for this recipe to work. The powdered kind will not melt and has a very different flavor than fresh cheese. Use a microplane or very fine cheese grater to make sure the cheese is fine enough to melt without clumping too much. Set aside.
Step 4. When the pasta is cooked, before draining, reserve two cups of the starchy pasta water for your sauce. Drain pasta and set aside.
Step 5. Add one cup of the pasta water to the melted butter and pepper and gently stir together.
Step 6. Turn the heat off and add the pasta to the pan with the melted butter sauce and use tongs and toss to coat the spaghetti. Slowly add the cheese and continue stirring/tossing and add the remaining reserved pasta water to melt the cheese and combine into the sauce.
When done, serve and top with additional Parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste.
Serves 4-6. Bon Appétit!
For more simple meal ideas, check out these books on our eCommunity page:
Six Ingredients With Six Sisters’ Stuff
How to Cook Everything the Basics
Sheet Pan Suppers