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Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Also known as ‘Cheese & Pepper' Pasta. A classic Italian recipe that feels so fancy, but is the simplest pasta with just a few ingredients to create perfection. I consider this a sophisticated and grown up Mac & Cheese.

There are only a couple ingredients, however you need these exact items to make this dish what it's meant to be. I’ve tried the shortcuts with traditional pepper instead of peppercorns, pre- grated cheese, or using the on the wrong side of the grater… and let me tell you, you may as well not waste your time. It just doesn’t turn out or the cheese clumps.

So since I’ve done all the WRONG things while making this dish, I’m here to guide you on how to do it RIGHT the first time.

I love a good spaghetti dish since we don't do these noodles often with kiddos. :)

Grind up those FRESH peppercorns!

Add some oil to a large skillet, when shimmering throw in the pepper to sizzle for a minute. Then add a ladle of hot pasta water. Let it boil for a few minutes to emulsify and become its own little sauce.

Then throw in the hot pasta to toss and coat in the oil.

Freshly grate some Pecorino Romano cheese as FINE as possible. It needs to be a powder like consistency. You can see in the photo above the grate setting I used.

And this type of cheese is so creamy and good - if you haven't tried it I encourage you to do so with this dish! I get the big block at Sam's or Costco.

Add the cheesy paste to the hot pasta and give it a good stir. Then slowly add another cup to cup and a half of hot pasta water. I do 1/2 cup at a time. Keep stirring and the pasta will begin to absorb more of this liquid.

YUMM. Just missing a glass a Chardonnay with this one.



  • 1 lb spaghetti or bucatini

  • Salt

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil

  • Peppercorns, about 1 Tablespoon freshly ground

  • 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (pre-grated will not work)

  • 3 cups of pasta water

The Steps

  1. First things first, grate your Pecorino Romano cheese on the side that will give you the finest powder of cheese. Its the side with what looks like little holes punched out of your grater. (If you’re like me, its the side I’ve never used before. Until now). Then grind your peppercorns.

  2. Heavily salt some water for the pasta. I threw in 2-3 tablespoons, but you can do more if you like. Once boiling, cook the pasta until al dente.

  3. While pasta is cooking, heat up a large heavy duty saucepan. Once hot, add the olive oil. When shimmering, sprinkle in the pepper. Let this sizzle for a minute. Then ladle 1/2-3/4 cup of pasta water into the oil. Beware it will sizzle and steam and spit. Swirl the pan, letting this boil and emulsify for a few minutes.

  4. Drain your pasta and add to the olive oil & pepper. Toss and coat the pasta.

  5. Meanwhile ladle 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pasta water into the powdered cheese and stir. This will create a paste like consistency. Add this to your pasta and give a good stir until melted through.

  6. Add more pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time until you reached a nice cheesy sauce. Be patient and keep stirring. I ended up adding a little more than a cup after I stirred in the cheese. Give it a little time for the pasta to soak up some extra water. Just a couple minutes will do.

  7. Garnish with extra cheese and fresh pepper.


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