This Cacio e Pepe Recipe combines 4 simple ingredients to create a most memorable and flavorful Italian inspired dish.
Italians are famous for their easy, full-flavored rustic cuisine and cacio e pepe is exactly that! Served hot as an entrée, or as a cold side salad, these are the kinds of versatile recipes that home cooks come back to again and again!
Cacio e Pepe
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What Is Cacio e Pepe?
Pronounced ‘caw-cho eh peppe’, this light pasta dish means ‘cheese and pepper’ in many Italian dialects. Black pepper, grated Romano cheese is tossed with a long pasta like fettuccine, bucatini (a long, tubular pasta) or capellini (thin spaghetti). If regular spaghetti is all that’s on hand, feel free to use it.
Ingredients and Variations
Since cacio e pepe is so mild in flavor, choose pasta that is heavier so the cheesy sauce can stick to it. This recipe calls for long pasta like fettuccini, but penne, rotini, even linguine will work!
For a little color and extra nutrition, here are some of our favorite add-ins:
VEGGIES – Sliced brussels sprouts, zucchini ‘zoodles’ or diced zucchini, frozen diced veggies, diced bell peppers, crushed tomatoes (drained) or chopped sundried tomatoes.
MEAT – Diced salami, ground or diced cooked chicken. Even shrimp would be delicious with this dish!
HERBS – Chopped fresh basil or parsley.
EXTRAS – Sliced black olives or capers
How To Make Cacio e Pepe
- Blend the grated cheese and pepper together. Set aside.
- Cook and drain pasta (as per recipe below) reserving some pasta water.
- Toss pasta with butter.
- Stir in the cheese/pepper mixture, adding a bit of pasta water as needed. Serve immediately.
- Do not rinse the pasta once cooked – this will remove the necessary starch that makes the cheese adhere to the pasta.
- Reserve pasta water – this is an important step as the water is needed to thin out the cheese mixture.
- Add small amounts at a time – add the reserved water gradually to prevent the cheesy sauce from becoming too runny. Mix until the pasta is just at the desired consistency.
- Chill – this dish can be prepared and then chilled for a cold side salad.
What To Serve With Cacio e Pepe
We love to serve cacio e pepe with cheesy breadsticks, a fresh tomato salad and Italian inspired Tiramisu Cupcakes for dessert!
How To Store And Can It Be Frozen?
As with all pasta dishes, store them tightly covered in the refrigerator. Cacio e pepe should be good for about 4 days.
To reheat it, simply scoop a portion into a microwave safe bowl and reheat. Add a dash of salt and pepper or some extra grated Romano to ref
resh the flavors.
Freezing pasta can be tricky because once it thaws, it can get soggy. So it’s best to make a fresh batch, it’s too easy not to!
Other Delicious Pasta Recipes To Try!
- Fajita Pasta – zesty and delicious.
- Creamy Garlic Pasta – the perfect one pot dish!
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta – for seafood lovers.
- Italian Sausage Pasta – a complete meal.
- CrockPot Chicken Tortellini – so easy to make!
Cacio e Pepe
- 12 ounces long pasta or spaghetti
- 4 ounces Pecorino Romano plus extra for garnish
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper finely ground
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Grate cheese in a blender or food processor to a fine consistency and place in a medium bowl. Add pepper and mix well.
- Cook pasta in a shallow pot with salted water until al dente. Drain well reserving 1 ½ cups of pasta water (do not rinse pasta).
- Turn the pot to low and add the pasta back into the warm pot with butter. Toss well.
- Add cheese and toss to combine adding in pasta water a little bit at a time as needed to reach desired consistency.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Recipe adapted from SpendWithPennies