Like our classic, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, Cacio e Pepe is a Roman dish eaten any day of the week for lunch, dinner and even as a late night snack. "Cacio" is the local dialect word for Pecorino (cheese from sheep's milk) and "pepe" is Italian for black pepper (crushed from whole peppercorns). These ingredients are tossed with long pasta in an emulsified sauce that is bound by the pasta's starchy cooking water. It’s simple and fast, just like our own crowd-pleasing classic: mac n' cheese. But oh so heavenly.
The peppery finish of our robust (and fresh!) extra-virgin olive oils and the saltiness of sheep's milk Pecorino replaces any memory of Canada's best mac n' cheese recipes.
And for Cacio e Pepe with a difference (don't tell any Roman), gently drizzle one of our favourite olive oil infusions before serving. We have a great Pasta Toss Collection to help you do just that.
SERVES: 4 to 6
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns crushed4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil2 tbsp sea salt500 grams spaghetti1-1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano(or substitute with Parmigiano Reggiano if Pecorino is unavailable) 3/4 to 1 cup of pasta cooking water Madagascar Black Peppercorn olive oil
for drizzle and garnish
Heat saute pan on medium (a frying pan with high sides). Add crushed peppercorns and toast lightly for a less than a minute. Then add olive oil and turn off heat and set aside. Meanwhile, bring water in a large pot to a boil. The amount of water should be just enough to barely cover the spaghetti after it's softened. (You'll be using a reduction of the starchy water to make the sauce.) When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil add the salt then the spaghetti. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes less than the lowest time recommended on the package. Separately, reheat the peppercorn and olive oil mixture on medium setting. When heated, use tongs to add the barely cooked spaghetti, and any water that clings to the pasta, to the olive oil and pepper mixture. Toss immediately before adding an additional 1/2 cup of cooking water to your saute pan. Turn heat to simmer. Toss continuously until most of the water is absorbed. Then add cheese a handful at a time tossing until all spaghetti is coated and the sauce turns creamy. If it gets too dry or too dense, simply add a couple of tablespoons of the starchy pasta water. (While Cacio e Pepe is a very, very quick dish, it applies the same principle as cooking risotto where the liquid is absorbed until creamy.) At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a warm bowl. Before serving, grate more cheese, sprinkle more black pepper and drizzle your favourite olive oil.