Cacio e Pepe (literally, cheese and pepper) is a very simple recipe in theory. To me, these are the best kind as you can do little tweaks to make them take on a whole new, personalized flavor. Cacio e Pepe is something that almost every chef seems to have a version of as you can easily throw it together and eat in when in a rush.
I actually frequently make this as a lunch or when I need a personal-size dinner if Rob is on work travel. Since its so simple and the ingredients tend to already be in my pantry, it’s great when I don’t feel like going to the store. If you are anything like me, going to the store once you are home and comfy can be annoying.
I do tend to incorporate other flavors into it based on what is in my pantry. Some of my favorite add-ins are lemon, cherry tomatoes, basil (which is in this version), or pine nuts. Each of these either alone or together can really elevate the dish and add a lot of depth.
I do tend to make mine fairly peppery. I actually add red pepper flake to up the heat in a more flavorful way than just cracked pepper. To make this nice and cheesy, I also added asiago in addition to the traditional parmigiano reggiano. I did roast some cherry tomatoes that I had sitting around, which added a nice pop of freshness which this can sometimes use to offset the pasta, pepper, and cheese.
Cacio e Pepe
- 1/2-3/4 Lb Pasta based on servings
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 1 Tsp Garlic Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flake
- 1/4 Tsp Ground Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Pasta Water
- 1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated
- 1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese grated
- Optional: Basil roasted tomato, pine nut, lemon zest
- Cook the pasta in a large stock pot of salted water per package instructions. Once the pasta is about half cooked, reserve the pasta water for the sauce.
- Melt the butter in a 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and garlic salt to the butter and cook for about a minute. Add the pasta water and allow it to reduce for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the pasta once cooked and toss to combine.
- Toss in the cheese and any optional toppings you want to use.