Get a taste of Italy with this easy 15-min creamy cheese and black pepper pasta recipe (cacio et pepe).
A few years back I got to spend three whole child-free days in Rome. Oh the joy of waking up slowly; of wandering through little streets packed with so much history; of eating gelato, of loosing myself in beautiful old churches and graveyards; of seeing how many ruins I could spot in a 15 mins period; of buying fresh cheese and delicious fruits in the markets and of learning a lot about Roman history through an amazing food tour.
And I still remember my first ever taste of cacio et pepe in a little restaurant in the Testaccio neighbourhood. Cacio et pepe simply means cheese and pepper and this three ingredient dish, made with pantry staples, just blew my mind. So much so, that I had to retrace my tour steps to the food store to get some fresh pasta AND I cook it 2 nights in a row when I got back. OH definitely did and continues to approve.
So when Expedia asked me to come up with an Italian dish for their #expediaworldonaplate challenge, I knew it simply had to be cacio et pepe. Yeap this good old-fashioned comforting pasta, made with warm melty cheese and heat from the pepper takes me right back to Rome.
Tricks for making this simple dish perfect include using good quality cheese and saving some of the hot starchy pasta water to melt the cheese and bind it to the pasta. Yes it is that simple. And if you are short on thin spaghetti then feel free to use tagliatelle too.
Do pop over to Expedia to find out more great recipes in their world on a plate challenge and whilst you are at it booking yourself a trip or two to Italy and come and tell me all about it. This post is sponsored by Expedia. Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue cooking up great recipes for you. All opinions are my own.
- 250g (8.8oz) of spaghetti, tonnarelli or tagliatelle
- 75g (2.6oz) of grated Pecorino Romano plus extra for topping
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper plus extra for topping
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions making sure it is a little bit al dente at the end.
- Just before the pasta is done remove about 150ml of the hot pasta water and set aside.
- Switch off the heat, drain the pasta and immediately return it to the pot with the cheese, pepper and two thirds of the reserved water.
- Stir and toss the pasta until the melted cheese coats the pasta in a nice creamy consistency. You might need to add a little bit more water if too dry or a bit more cheese if too watery.
- Plate the pasta and top with the extra cheese and black pepper.
- Serves 2-3.