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)

  • 1 heaping tablespoon whole black Tellicherry peppercorns
  • 1/2 pound dried Italian egg pasta (we used tagliarelle)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (or more to taste), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Minced fresh parsley

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.

21 comments to “cacio e pepe”

  1. Oh yum. Looks so good. I’m all about the easy pasta nights…

  2. This looks delicious! Tonight I am making some dreaded chicken tortellini (from the freezer). I have been avoiding it! I would like to toss it lightly with some fresh tomato bruschetta dip (Xmas present) and fresh parm. Thanks for making pasta look delish. Maybe mine will be as edible as yours!

  3. Is this from Ina’s latest cookbook? I believe I saw a similar recipe in there…YUM.

  4. So simple and yet so elegant.

  5. Yes, Beth, it is from an Ina Garten recipe. Sort of. I made some changes but it is essentially the same idea. It is really good!

  6. I’m all for trying this one – I’m in such a pasta mood lately. It’ll probably be a great opportunity to get out my pasta machine again, too!

  7. Yay pasta machines, I am sure that fresh pasta will make this recipe even more delicious!

  8. What a pretty textile the pasta is set upon! I am going to make this dish pronto

  9. Now here’s a dish that even I can make – in my 12-foot square NYC kitchen with hotplate — lol.

    Thanks for the idea.


  10. This looks like such an elegant and simple dish.
    Sounds perfect on any busy night. I think I would have added a few cherry tomatoes.

  11. A simple yet delicious dish! Nice.

  12. made this tonight for dinner…tons of left overs for more dominicks salad bar for me (this week anyway)! this seriously took ten minutes from start to finish…that’s my type of cooking.

  13. I make a variation of this recipe- I simply boil the pasta (I prefer spinach fettucini for mine) and put it in a big bowl. I then add about a Tbsp. of margarine, Pecorino to taste (a little more than a cup) and ground black pepper. I mix them all together and then add the arugula straight to the mixture. The arugula melts beautifully and it is absolutely delicious!

  14. branch! made this last night for a small dinner party….so good and so easy and frankly affordable!!! xo

  15. Raul made this last weekend — SO good & satisfying, and great leftover, too!

  16. This was so delicious. I found this link from TasteSpotting and I’m so glad I did. So easy. So good. So cheesy!

  17. Robin and I made this tonight…very simple/tasty

  18. Sounds delicious! There is a restaurant in NYC called Cacio e Pepe and this is their signature dish.

  19. I had no pecorino (which is very expensive around here, anyway) so I used parmesan, which changes it completely, I’m sure… but the result was delicious. If I can someday afford pecorino, I’ll try the original.

  20. Hi Masha! I made this with Parmesan recently and liked it just as much, so I think you made the right choice! Thanks for writing.

  21. I had this in Rome, and loved it.