When inspiration and energy is low, this simple yet elegant pasta dish should be at the top of your list.
February seems to be really dragging it’s heels. I thought this week was the last week in Feb but no, there’s still another half a week of darkness after this one. The thought of it being March soon, however, fills me with spring-like joy with it’s promise of the clocks going forward and a full range of bulbs showing their faces. My inspiration for cooking is as low as my mood at the moment. I am lacking in imagination and tending to just churn out my stock dishes on a weekly basis. Sometimes, however, you don’t need to be in the kitchen all day to achieve greatness. This relatively effortless Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe is the utter incarnation of simple is often best.
I have been meaning to try this recipe for ages. I have pinned it numerous times and ogled the Momofuku version with a fried egg on the top more times than I care to mention. Now I have tried Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, it will become my comfort food of choice, and I really must try it with the fried egg on top, impending weight loss permitting. The recipe I followed from Serious Eats, with thanks, is quite involved and details plenty of helpful tips when fashioning this dish. The end result is al dente spaghetti coated in a warming combination of pecorino cheese, freshly ground black pepper infused olive oil and just a touch of butter. Uncomplicated flavours which were wolfed down by the ever hungry men in my life. The key here is to grate your cheese on the finest side of your grater or on a microplane. You need the cheese to melt quickly and evenly into the oil and butter and to blend with some extra pasta cooking water to ensure a creamy sauce. I think mine did exactly that, but even if it doesn’t what’s not to love about cheesy peppery pasta with butter?
This classic Roman pasta dish is elegant simplicity in a bowl and would make a lovely supper for guests or your family to love. And it’s vegetarian, so should you have a last minute non-meat eater, this is the almost instant answer to your prayers.
This recipe will appear on Lucy Loves later this week.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe Recipe
Serves 2 to 3, appetite dependent
You will need to largish high sided frying pans
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper corns, coarsely crushed in a pestle and mortar, or use a teaspoon of ready ground pepper
- 250g spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 60g finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra grated parmesan for serving
Take a medium sized high sided frying pan and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of your freshly ground black pepper to the oil and turn the heat on to medium and heat the oil and pepper until just starting to smell fragrant. Turn the heat off and pop to one side for the moment.
Take another larger high sided frying pan and add boiling salted water. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente – mine took 8 minutes.
Grate the pecorino or parmesan on the finest side of your grater or on a microplane.
Add the butter and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the olive oil and pepper combo and stir to melt. Lift the spaghetti from the water using tongs or a pasta spoon and place into the oil mixture. Add the cheese along with the final tablespoon of olive oil and stir consistently using a fork until the cheese, oil, butter and water have formed a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if it’s too dry and not quite saucy enough. Reheat gently on a low heat if needed.
Serve immediately with extra grated parmesan and more freshly ground black pepper.