Cacio e Pepe! What is it? The name translates to cheese and pepper which are the main two ingredients for making this pasta dish.
Cacio e Pepe is one of the easiest Italian pasta dishes you can make. To create the light sauce we use pasta water and cheese, for the aromatics we use garlic and for the seasoning we use lots of freshy ground pepper! And that my friends is all it takes.
This pasta sounds almost too easy to be so good. But I promise, the number of ingredients doesn’t necessarily translate to a taste dish. In fact I’ve been taught, if you use good quality ingredients, you don’t need many.
Give it a try, this is one of my go-to pastas that if you did want to add in some more flavors (like pancetta, bacon or even chicken or shrimp) it’s the prefect recipe to get your creative juices started.
- 1 pound of thin spaghetti pasta – or long noodle of your choice
- olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper (+/- to your taste)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 cup (+/-) pasta water
- optional add in’s: Bits of pancetta, and/or chopped veggies
- In a large pot bring water to a strong boil. Add pasta and salt generously. Cook according to package direction to reach al dente (cooked but still firm).
- In a large deep skillet, over medium heat add the olive oil. Once hot add smashed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (If you were adding in the optional items this would be the time to do so). After everything you’re adding is sauteed, remove skillet from heat and place off to the side. Note: this is an important step, you must let the oil cool down a bit before moving onto the next step.
- Once the oil has cooled pour in 1 cup of pasta water and the butter. Bring to a slight boil. Using tongs take the al dente pasta out of the water and place directly into the skillet with the garlic.
- Add in the pepper and grated parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Taste and see if you need more salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt and only add after you’ve tasted it. If your pasta water was salty enough plus the salt from the cheese you may not need any additional.
- Serve immediately! I chose to serve with a side of asparagus but some grilled chicken on top would be great too!
Keywords: Cacio e Pepe, cheese, pepper, pasta, spaghetti, Italian