Cacio e Pepe (cheese & pepper) is a traditional Roman pasta dish that takes just a few ingredients and a bit of practice to make absolutely perfectly.
For the first leg of our honeymoon, we went to Rome. You know the place.
Now, when I think “Italian food,” I don’t usually think of Rome. I think, ya know, Naples or Tuscany. But Rome.
Oh, my goodness.
The food was to die for. We didn’t gain a ton of weight, because it 100*+ out every single day we were there, so we couldn’t eat a lot. But as soon as the sun went down, we turned into ravenous pasta-monsters.
And my dish of choice was Cacio e Pepe.
It’s deceptively simple– thin noodles, a bit of butter, a lot of cheese, and a ton of freshly-cracked black pepper. But Cacio e Pepe is an art. An art we’ve yet to master, for sure, but even if you botch it a little, it still tastes great. We started with this epicurious recipe, but will refine it from there!
Start by par-boiling your noodles. We used thin spaghetti. You still want them a little undercooked.
Drain your pasta, but save a cup of the pasta water.
For the sauce: start by melting two tablespoons of butter in your pan, and adding your 1-2 tsp of cracked black pepper, toasting the pepper until it becomes highly fragrant.
Add 1/2 cup of your pasta water to that mixture, bring to a simmer, then add your undercooked pasta. Toss it in the simmering water, add the last tablespoon of butter, mix, and then add almost all of your cheese. We used entirely Pecorino, though our original recipe called for a blend.
Stir THAT again (carefully– don’t lose your cheese!)
Cut the heat, add the rest of your cheese. If it’s a bit too dry, still, add a bit more pasta water until the cheese/butter/pepper mixture makes a sauce and the pasta is fully cooked.
Now the hardest bit (and what we added to the recipe): let it sit. For a few minutes. Keep your eye on it or else your cats will try to eat it.
And then, when it’s all come together, or you can’t wait any longer:
FYI: We served our Roman feast with Valdo prosecco. Valdo is the #1 selling Prosecco in Italy. And right now, Valdo is running a contest to win a 4 day trip to Venice! More details here.
It’s a phenomenal, classic Prosecco that goes perfectly with Italian food. Thanks Esprit Du Vin for the bottle! It was a great way to remember our honeymoon.