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This cacio e pepe will put a pep-e in your step-e

If you still haven’t figured out how to properly cook pasta, this recipe is for you. Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper” — and that is about all you will need for this recipe. Though I might be biased, I would say that this recipe is even better than the sauce they sell at Trader Joe’s.

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serving size: 2-3 servings 

Ingredients:

Spaghetti

Solid pecorino romano

High quality olive oil

Fresh ground black peppercorns

Steps:

  1. Cook your spaghetti to al dente. (In beginner’s terms, you want it to be cooked, but just have a little bit of a bite to it, so don’t leave it in the water for too long.)
  2. While it’s cooking, thinly grate up a cup or so of your cheese.
    1. Fun tip: if you get a solid cheese piece, you can cut off a piece of the rind, put it in your pasta water while it’s cooking to infuse the cheese taste into the pasta. It’s a fun way to incorporate something that would have otherwise been a scrap!
  3. Grab a bowl, add your cheese and a bunch of pepper — if you think it’s enough keep adding more.
  4. Drain the pasta but keep a couple of cups of the pasta water to the side.
  5. Add a little bit of olive oil to the pot that the spaghetti is in to keep it from sticking to each other and put it to the side.
  6. Start heating up a saucepan at a low heat with a thin layer of olive oil as the base and add in a healthy serving of pepper. We’re trying to infuse the olive oil with the pepper flavor here.
  7. Add in equal parts water to the bowl of the pecorino/pepper mixture (err on the side of too little) and whisk it very thoroughly.
    1. You don’t want any graininess in the cheese; it should now be a creamy texture. If it’s still grainy after you mix it, add in a little more water. You have to do this while the pasta water is still hot (not boiling, but still warm).
  8. Add the pasta to the pan and add some more pasta water. Mix until the pasta water evaporates.
  9. Take off the stove and add in the cheese mix, and mix thoroughly.
  10. Enjoy!

If you’re in a pinch, you can use parm instead of the pecorino romano. They’re both similar, but the pecorino is a little creamier and saltier, so it makes for a better pasta. Overall, the key is high quality ingredients — you taste what you pay for especially in the cheese and a little bit in the olive oil! Good luck cooking, Highlanders. Ciao!

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