Cacio e Pepe is a Roman pasta dish that literally translates to "cheese and pepper". True to its name, the pasta is very simple, and consists of pasta, cheese (Parmesan + Pecorino Romano), and pepper. A little starchy pasta water helps to bind the cheesy sauce the pasta.
Basically, what I'm saying is that Cacio e Pepe is the OG macaroni and cheese.
What ingredients go into this pasta?
- Salt: Kosher salt for the pasta water. After you bring the water for your pasta up to a boil, you want to make it salty like the sea. Trust.
- Pasta: I used bucatini, which is like a fat spaghetti noodle, but hollow. It's probably my favorite long pasta.
- Butter: I used unsalted butter here.
- Cheese: You'll want to use a a combination of either Parmesan/Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano. Make sure that your cheeses are finely ground. That will help with the melting process and produce a really silky sauce.
- Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper, please.
- Pasta water: You'll use a bit of starchy pasta water to make the sauce. *chef's kiss*
How does this pasta come together?
It's a pretty quick and easy process, tbh.
You'll start by cooking your pasta, reserving a bit of the starchy pasta water, and then draining it.
Meanwhile, you'll make a sauce out of melted butter, black pepper, that reserved pasta water, and cheese. Once you've got a silky sauce going, you'll add the pasta back in.
Top with some more cheese and pepper, then get to eating!
There are some very good memories associated with this pasta
Cacio e Pepe was the very first meal that I ate when we visited Rome. We landed at Aeroporto Fiumicino and took a train to Stazione Termini. Jet lagged and very hungry, we found our way to Il Mercato Centrale Roma in the train station.
Pasta seemed like the correct choice. Sean ended up with Pasta Carbonara and I chose Cacio e Pepe. I'm sure the jet lag and hanger had something to do with it, but that was some of the best pasta I've ever had.
I've said it before, and likely will again, but one of my favorite things about cooking (and about food in general) is that a recipe can transport you to a different time and place. We spent a little time reminiscing about our trip over bowls of this pasta and some really good chianti.
Looking for related recipes?
Check out this Pasta all'Amatriciana if you're in need of more Roman pasta deliciousness!
Aaaaand let's not forget that I made this bonkers good Risotto Cacio e Pepe, too! Check it out!
Where does this recipe come from?
This recipe comes from Bon Appétit.
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
- kosher salt
- 12 oz bucatini pasta
- 3 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked
- ¾ cup Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese finely grated
- ⅓ cup Pecorino Romano cheese finely grated
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2 minutes before al dente.
- Just before the pasta is done cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper a cook for ~1 minute.
- Add ½ cup of the pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and toss until coated in pasta water/butter.
- Add the Parmesan/Grana Padano, stirring and tossing the pasta around until the cheese has melted
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the Pecorino Romano, stirring and tossing until the cheese melts.
- Serve with additional shredded cheese and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information is a generated estimate and is not guaranteed to be accurate.