Cacio e Pepe (“Cheese and Pepper” Pasta)

Despite having very few ingredients, this Roman pasta dish has a lot of taste!  I highly recommend it if you are a fan of Italian grated cheeses and pepper…soooo much pepper!  Just be warned, it calls for a lot of cheese (specifically Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano), and if you get the good stuff (which you should), it’ll end up costing a decent amount of money for just these two ingredients!  But it’s really worth it!

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Cacio e Pepe (“Cheese and Pepper” Pasta)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
About 3/4 cup of cooking water
2 tablespoons sea salt

Directions:

Crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle.  (If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you could use about 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cracked pepper.)

In a pot over low heat, heat the crushed peppercorn with the olive oil, stirring constantly.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Turn the heat off under the olive oil and add about 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan, then set aside.

Add the salt to the boiling water, stir, then add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti al dente (or until 2 minutes under the lowest time recommended on the package). Using tongs or a pasta spoon (so you don’t get rid of the water), add the pasta to the pot with the pepper.

Turn the heat very low and gently toss the pasta continuously until most of the water is absorbed. At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.

Continue to toss the pasta and begin adding the two types of cheese (about 1/4 cup at a time). If the mixture starts to get dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Keep tossing and adding cheese and pasta water until all the cheese has been incorporated and the pasta begins to look creamy.

Serve with extra grated cheese and extra pepper.

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