For those of you who haven’t heard of cacio e pepe, it’s a Roman pasta dish consisting of three basic ingredients; cheese, black pepper and pasta — in fact ‘cacio’ means ‘cheese’ and ‘pepe’ means ‘pepper’. It’s a gloriously simple dish that uses the water the pasta is cooked in to create a cheesy, glossy sauce. The advantage of this, is that you make it all in one pot, thus saving on washing up. Praise be to Rome.
Most cacio e pepe recipes I researched seemed to include butter as well as combination of parmesan and pecorino but I found both additions to be unnecessary, I didn’t need more calories thank you very much. I did however, approve of adding a bit of chopped garlic and a few cheeky cherry toms. Is it a traditional cacio e pepe? Certainly not, but who cares, I won’t tell if you won’t.
Cacio e pepe with cherry tomatoes
Serves 2 / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 20 mins / V
200g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
500ml boiling water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g parmesan* or Italian hard cheese
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil to serve
* Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.
1. Boil a kettle with at least half a litre of water. Peel and finely chop the garlic and halve the cherry tomatoes.
2. In a large pan with a lid, add a tablespoon of oil and put on a medium heat. Add two finely chopped garlic cloves, cherry tomatoes and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes stirring continually. Pour over 500ml of boiling water, add the spaghetti and put the lid on (make sure your pasta is fully submerged in the water before putting the lid on). Bring to the boil.
3. Once boiling, remove the lid and simmer for 8 minutes stirring regularly (this is a good time to grate your cheese if you haven’t already done so).
4. Once the pasta is cooked, take off the heat and allow to cool for a minute before adding most of the grated cheese (keep a little back to sprinkle on top of each portion). Mix vigorously (this prevents the cheese coagulating) until the cheese has melted.
5. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a crack of black pepper. Top with torn fresh basil leaves.
If you’ve had a go at making my cacio e pepe or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org