Here is your summer side dish for grilled meats. This simple pasta dish of cheese and cracked black pepper is one of my family's favorites. If you've ever been to Rome, you will see this dish on practically every menu. It is simple and fast to make. Once your water is boiling, it is a 5 minute preparation.
You will see variations of this dish with butter or garlic or onion - none of them belong in true Cacio e Pepe. Keep it simple and use the best Pecorino cheese you can find and fragrant peppercorns. With so few ingredients, the quality will make the difference.
I was talking with someone the other day about starch sides - potatoes, rice, etc. I mentioned that the only starch my family likes as a side dish is pasta and this person said they never thought about using pasta as a side dish, only a main entree. I was a little surprised. If you are one of those people. try pasta as a side dish this summer. I figure about 1-1/2 ounces of dry pasta per person as a side.
Cacio e Pepe
for a printable recipe, click here
serves 5-6 as a side or first course
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and cracked black pepper
are the flavors of this dish
Bring a heavy pot of salted water to a boil and boil the spaghetti until al dente. (I use Barilla thin spaghetti and after it comes to a boil, I cook it for exactly 4 minutes, less than what the package instructions are).
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the cracked pepper and gently saute for a couple of minutes.
With tongs, remove the boiled pasta and place right into the skillet (do not drain the pasta water). Swirl to coat with the olive oil and pepper. Add the cheese and continue swirling the pasta to coat with the cheese. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot pasta water and continue to coat the pasta.