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cacio e pepe

Every year I make some resolutions related to food. I usually give up on them a few weeks into the new year. One always seems to be that I will cook dinner/lunch more often and eat out less, both for health and financial reasons. In an effort to make this one stick, I have been on the lookout for very quickly prepared meals that are also delicious. This recipe for pasta with pecorino and black pepper is one of those recipes. It came together in about 10 minutes and was extremely delicious. We ate it with an arugula salad and an orange to balance out the cup of cheese. It will become a regular at our house, especially since the ingredients are usually on hand. Here’s hoping that 2009 is finally the year that I eat at home more than I eat out. I’ll keep you posted…

cacio e pepe (inspired by Ina Garten and Rome)

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, place the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle (or sandwich bag) and crush them until you have a mixture of coarse and fine pepper. Set aside. Near the end of the pasta cooking time, ladle one cup of pasta water into a glass measuring cup (or small bowl) and set aside. Drain the pasta quickly in a colander and quickly return the wet pasta to the pot.

Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of the grated Pecorino, the crushed peppercorns, cream, butter, parsley and about a teaspoon of salt. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water. Off heat, toss with remaining cheese. Serve immediately with extra Pecorino.

*** I don’t like parsley, so I left it out.This recipe should be adapted to taste. Next time I might go for more black peppercorns. If you’d like it richer you could add an extra tablespoon or two of cream. Make it yours!

*** Since there are so few ingredients here- the quality of the ingredients matter. Try to find imported Italian dried pasta that is heavy on egg (yellow). Also, look for high quality aged Pecorino cheese.