Cacio E Pepe
EVENT: SUNDAY FUNDAY
THEME: ROMAN OR ITALIAN RECIPES
RECIPE: CACIO E PEPE
Cacio E Pepe is the easiest, yummiest spaghetti dish and it hardly takes more than 20 minutes to prepare it. Just a few ingredients and a creamy, flavourful meal is ready in a matter of minutes. This pasta dish is not heavily coated with sauce. A creamy sauce just about coats the pasta.
What is Cacio E Pepe?
Literally when translated to English it means a cheese and pepper pasta. Yup, simple as that. This creamy pasta is very much a part of the Roman Cuisine. However, one cannot use any cheese, it has to be Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano. Why only those cheeses? Well, it is the sharp nutty flavours of these cheeses that adds flavour to the pasta.
By the way, the difference between both the cheeses is the milk used to make it. Mostly sheep milk is used for Pecorino Romano and Cow’s milk for Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan). Did you know that Pecorino Romano dates back to the Roman Times?
As very few ingredients are used to make this pasta dish, it is imperative to use freshly ground coarse black pepper. It is quite difficult for me to describe the flavours that this pasta dish tantalizes ones taste buds.
Sunday Funday is a group of Food Bloggers. Every Sunday we share some fun, traditional, hearty or easy recipes to make Sunday Family Meals a bit more exciting. To join this fun group, visit the Sunday Funday Facebook Page. Request to join in.
Theme: Roman Or Italian Recipes as a Tribute to Augustus Caesar, Namesake of August
For this week Sue who blogs at Palatable Pastimes suggested we share a Roman or Italian Recipe as a tribute to Augustus Caesar after whom the month of August is named.
As a matter of fact, August was originally called Sextillia, the Roman word for sixth. Yes back then it was the sixth month. In 8 BCE, the month was named in honor of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor. Confusion arose when Julius Caesar added January and February to the Roman Calendar.
Some Of My Favourite Dishes From The Italian Cuisine:
Biscotti Regina – Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Pane di Zucca – Pumpkin Bread
Affogato – Italian Coffee Dessert
Vanilla Chia Panna Cotta – with chocolate sauce, its pure indulgence
Lasagna With Chickpeas – famous pasta dish from Calabria Region of Italy
Rustico – pastries from Apulia or Puglia region, filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella and béchamel sauce.
Zaletti – lemony cornmeal cookies from the Veneto Region of Italy.
Check Out How Fellow Bloggers Have Made For This Theme:
- Authentic Italian Meatballs by Making Miracles
- Herbed Whole Wheat Piadinas & A Sandwich by Sneha’s Recipe
- Honey Glazed Pork Loin by Amy’s Cooking Adventures
- Lasagna Bolognese by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Spaghetti Carbonara by Palatable Pastime
- Supplì al Telefono and a Quintessential Roman Pasta by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
For this theme I had two options:
- Redo my Maritozzi Con La Panna (Roman Cream Buns) or
- Give Cacio E Pepe Pasta recipe a try again.
The first attempt was a failure and I was feeling so bad because back then I paid quite a bit for the Pecorino Romano cheese. Not commonly found in the supermarkets in Mombasa, I had bought it from the only Italian shop. So you can imagine how costly it must have been. The idea of retrying this recipe was all forgotten after hubby and I had to eat the clumpy spaghetti. Definitely didn’t have the heart to throw away expensive cheese!
Then Sue suggested this theme. Being in Montreal where Pecorino Romano Cheese is a bit expensive compared to other cheeses but at least not paying the earth for it, I thought “lets try the pasta dish again.” And so glad I did, the maritozzi can wait for a while.
What Made The Difference?
Before embarking on making this simple pasta dish, I went through several Cacio E Pepe recipes to get that perfect creamy sauce that clings to the spaghetti and doesn’t clump up. Most recipes didn’t have many tips. However, I came across the recipe on Ali’s blog Gimme Some Oven. I read and re-read all her tips, jotted them down and armed with that headed to the kitchen. Hey presto! It worked perfectly well for me.
Heads Up: PLEASE FOLLOW ALL THE TIPS THAT SHE HAS GIVEN.
My Version of Cacio E Pepe:
Traditionally, no butter, olive oil or garlic is used but I added butter as Ali suggested. Also to add a bit more flavour, I sautéed chopped garlic in olive oil and added it to the linguine.
Many people deviate from the traditional recipe and add bacon, sausages, salmon, shrimp, chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini, basil, parsley, mushrooms, etc.
Ingredients Required For Cacio E Pepe Spaghetti:
- Pasta – best to use bucatini, linguine, spaghetti. I used linguine.
- Salt – use sea salt or any salt of your choice. Add a bit more than usual so that the pasta takes up the salt. Don’t need to add more salt later.
- Water – to boil the pasta. It is best not to use too much water as we need starchy water to add to the boiled pasta. I kept stirring the pasta as it was boiling so that it does not stick together. For about 8oz linguine I added only 4½ cups of water. Save 2 cups of starchy water when the pasta has reached the al dente stage.
- Butter – this is one of the secret ingredient suggested by Ali and it does work wonders to create that creamy sauce.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese – or use Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan). Both, must be freshly grated.
- Black Pepper – freshly ground is the best. I prefer to use coarsely ground pepper. If you wish you can use finely ground.
- Olive Oil – use good quality Olive oil.
- Garlic – peeled and finely chopped or sliced. This ingredient is totally optional. Use sparingly as you don’t want the garlic to overpower the flavours of pepper and cheese.
CACIO E PEPE RECIPE
- 8 oz linguine, bucatini or spaghetti
- 4½ cups water
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarse pepper powder freshly ground/cracked
- 2 cloves garlic finely sliced or chopped
- 1 cup pecorino romano freshly grated
- BOILING THE PASTA:
- Add the water in a deep saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Add salt and mix well.
- Add the liguine, bucatini or spaghetti.
- Cook till the pasta is al dente. This means that it still has a bit of bite but is not raw. In between keep stirring the pasta gently as we have used less water.
- Remove 2 cups of the starchy water and keep it on the side.
- Drain out the pasta and remaining water into a colander.
- Wipe the saucepan clean.
- Add olive oil and place the pan over medium heat.
- Add garlic and saute it for a few seconds. Don't allow it to burn.
- Add pepper powder and give it a good stir.
- Take the pan off the heat.
PREPARATION OF CACIO E PEPE
- To the saucepan with olive oil, garlic and pepper in it, add the boiled linguine or pasta you have used.
- Add the butter and 1 cup of starchy water.
- Toss well till the butter melts.
- Now add ½ cup more of the starchy water and the grated cheese.
- Toss it well, till the cheese melts and the sauce coats the linguine or pasta.
- If required, can add remaining water little at a time. I added just ¼ cup more.
SERVING CACIO E PEPE
- Serve hot cacio e pepe with extra grated cheese and pepper on top. Or add any vegetable, meat or fresh herbs on top.
- Use less water so that you get nice starchy water for the sauce.
- Use freshly ground or cracked black pepper.
- Don't over boil the pasta otherwise it will become mushy.
- Toss well with tongs or a spoon when you add the cheese and starchy water.
- Don't skip the butter as that also helps to make the sauce creamy.
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