Cacio E Pepe Recipe
When it comes to pasta dishes, Romans are experts. With only a few ingredients, they are able to produce incredible creations. Cacio e pepe is a perfect example. Spaghetti is tossed in a simple, creamy Pecorino Romano and black pepper sauce. The level of flavor achieved with only a handful of ingredients is mind-boggling.
My husband Lulu and I recently took a very romantic trip to Rome, Italy, so I thought it would be nice to share some pictures. The city is very small (a few square miles) and I felt like we walked every square inch. The upside is that we were able to try a lot of restaurants all over the city. We discovered a lovely one called Mario's, located on a small street behind the Roman Ruins. It doesn't attract a lot of tourists because of its off-the-beaten-path location, but we noticed a lot of locals. We were so impressed by the quality of the food that after trying several other average restaurants, we ended up eating at Mario's for the rest of the trip.
Lulu and I spent only a few days in Rome and then returned to Paris, where I tried to replicate the delicious pasta dish. To make it more luxurious, I added a few pieces of black truffle I found in an open air market. Lulu loved it!
Valentine's Day is coming soon, and if you want to surprise your Valentine with a simple yet delicious dish, you should consider cacio e pepe. If you can’t take your love to Rome this Valentine’s Day, it’s a great way to bring a touch of Rome to your love!
Yields: 6 servings1 (16-ounce) package fresh spaghetti, store-bought
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot (optional), finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1-½ tablespoons black truffle (optional)
1 cup Pecorino pepper cheese (or regular Pecorino Romano), ground into fine powder
1-½ teaspoons salt
Boiling the pasta: Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way it's cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 3-4 minutes total until the pasta floats to the surface. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep gently stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom. When the pasta is cooked (but still in shape and firm), reserve about 1-½ cups of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Let stand in a colander. You can also skip this step and transfer the pasta directly to the sauté pan.
Making the caccio e pepe sauce:
In a large NON-STICK sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots (if used) and cook until they're slightly golden. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of butter. Using tongs, toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and a little black pepper. Transfer to a platter.
In the same pan, add the rest of the butter. Add 3/4 cup of cheese and about 1-¼ cups of pasta water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened.
Add the pasta to the pan. Toss using tongs and stir until well incorporated. Toss the pasta for about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons of truffle (if used). If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add more pasta water. Toss well for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add more black pepper and the rest of the truffle.
Sprinkle with more Pecorino cheese.
I finely chop a chunk of Pecorino and place the pieces in a mini food processor to obtain Pecorino powder.
You can find fresh pasta at the Pasta Market. The address is 4546 El Camino Real, Los Altos, California. Or you could simply use dry pasta.
Black truffle from the Périgord Region.
I was lucky enough to find truffles in an open-air market in Paris. They're quite expensive (that little chunk cost 35 Euros); you can omit this ingredient if you don't have any.
Ristorante Mario’s is located at Piazza del Grillo, 9, Roma, Centro Storico, Italy. Telephone: 06 67 93 725.
Published By: on February 2, 2011.