Simple pasta with cheese and pepper makes cacio e pepe a comforting, classic Italian recipe that is perfect for an easy, quick, vegetarian weeknight dinner.
What is Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe literally means “Cheese and pepper” and as is the case with simple food, using the very best ingredients you can find is crucial. This is not the time for powdery-packet-Parmesan or Pecorino. Use the good stuff. I prefer to use a combination of freshly cracked white pepper and black pepper. I find the white pepper more delicate and floral but use whatever you have in the house.
Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Olive oil.
- Pepper. Use freshly ground white or black pepper.
- Hard cheese. I have made this with Parmesan, Pecorino and Grana Padano and it is simply delicious using any three, or a mixture, of those.
- Pasta. Use a long pasta shape like spaghetti, linguini or fettucini for this recipe. It’s crucial that you save the cooking water as that is an integral part of the sauce.
How to make Cacio e Pepe
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta of your choice and cook until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of water. You will likely not use both cups but rather save more than less. Drain the pasta.
- Make the “sauce”: Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan (big enough to hold all the pasta). Add the pepper and toast for a minute. Add the cooked pasta with a good splash of the cooking water and the finely grated cheese. Quickly toss and turn the pasta in the buttery-cheesy liquid until the starch in the cooking water, the butter and the cheese form a light, creamy sauce which will coat the pasta beautifully. Adding more water will loosen the sauce and will create more creaminess. Just add the water slowly to create that creaminess and toss constantly over low heat.
- Serve: Tip the pasta into bowls and top with more cheese before tucking in. Simple perfection.
Easy pasta recipes
Cacio e pepe
- 500 g (1lb) spaghetti/Linguini
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons cracked pepper to taste
- 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente.
- In the meantime, melt together the butter and olive oil over low heat and add the pepper. Allow the pepper to toast in the butter/oil until fragrant.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve 2 cups of water and drain. Toss the pasta into the pan with the butter and pepper and add the cheese and 1/2 cup of water. Toss and turn the pasta in the sauce until creamy, adding 1/2 cup of cooking water at a time to loosen the sauce and add more creaminess.
- Transfer to bowls then top with more cheese and serve.