I like to think of cacio e pepe (Italian for "cheese and pepper") as Rome's cosmopolitan version of mac and cheese. It's a simple recipe that requires nothing more than spaghetti, cheese, butter, and seasonings, but it's all in the technique. The reserved cup of pasta water is what helps you achieve a glossy sauce that coats the pasta and makes it creamy (without cream). The buttery, peppery pasta is ready in a matter of minutes — and is always gone even faster than that. For this reason, cacio e pepe is one of the most valued dishes in my weeknight recipe arsenal. Want a plate of this now? Then check out the easy recipe below.
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- 2 cups pecorino romano cheese, finely grated, plus more for serving
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Return pasta and cooking water to the pot, and place over low heat. Add remaining ingredients, and stir until cheese and butter have melted and formed a creamy sauce, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and serve immediately with additional cheese.
- Pasta, Main Dishes
- 4 servings