When it comes to pasta, I like my carbs piled high with toppings. I’m talking a cream-based sauce with mushrooms, pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, peas, and lots and lots of cheese. The more the merrier. The dish pictured above does not follow that philosophy.
What you’re seeing there is a big and surprisingly tasty plate of Cacio e pepe, which literally translates to “cheese and pepper,” and practically covers all of the ingredients that go into making it. While my preference for fixings will probably never change, I’m learning that a minimalistic approach with few but fresh, quality ingredients can be just as satisfying.
I owe that discovery and the introduction to this dish to my friends Danielle and Sam who I had the pleasure of hosting a couple of weeks back. Knowing how much I love to cook, they brought with them this Mario Batali recipe and all of the ingredients you see above (minus the butter) from New York’s famed Eataly Italian market. The pasta, olive oil and cheeses are all leaps and bounds better than the Barilla, Trader Joe’s and Safeway equivalents now shamefully hiding in my cupboards and fridge. The Turners definitely win for best, most unique and most thoughtful hostess gift.
To make this yourself, you’ll need: linguine, cacio di roma, pecorino romano, olive oil, butter, kosher salt and black pepper. Be sure to splurge a little and get the good stuff.
It makes a big difference, believe me.
Recipe note: I recommend reducing the amount of butter and olive oil. Adjusted measurements listed below. Turns out even I have my limits. Sorry, Mario.
That’ll do it from me. Here’s hoping this week is as simple and easygoing as Cacio e pepe. Happy Monday!
- 1 pound bavette or linguini pasta
- water and salt for cooking pasta
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ stick butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cup freshly grated Cacio di Roma
- 1½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water to al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
- Drain pasta and set aside.
- In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is almost smoking.
- Add the butter and pasta and toss over high heat for 1 minute.
- Toss in cheeses, black pepper, pasta water and add salt to taste.
- Serve immediately and sprinkle on some more cheese while you're at it.
- Yields 4 generous servings of buttery, cheesy, peppery pasta.