May 3, 2011

Cacio e Pepe

To hell with the diet. I made Cacio e Pepe tonight.

The typical Roman pasta dish is a simple cheese, black pepper and starch combination, and a hallmark of the Testaccio district, the housing project that developed around the now defunct abattoir, in the southern part of the city.

Pasta Cacio e Pepe is enjoying a moment of glory as the new "it" dish, everyone's crazy about the old cucina povera quick fix. Restaurants in Italy and overseas are sometimes charging eyebrow-raising sums for a plateful. But on a par with Aio e Oio, Cacio e Pepe has always been a reliable and expeditious solution in case of sloth, self-invited last minute guests, or for post fornication midnight munchies.

Image © senzapanna

One of the best types of pasta to use for Cacio e Pepe is fresh tonarelli all'uovo, a thick and squared-section noodle made with eggs, flour and love.
That said, 400 g (14 oz) of the largest size durum wheat spaghetti you can find will do just fine
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Lots of coarsely ground black pepper
E basta. (no olive oil, no butter, no cream)

Boil the pasta al dente in 1 gallon of lightly salted water. Remember, fresh pasta cooks much quicker than the dried kind.

In the meantime melt part of the ground Pecorino cheese in a large pan with a ladle of pasta cooking water, stirring constantly over mild heat. Add more water and more cheese as the heat absorbs moisture.

Loosely drain the pasta, saving more starchy cooking water.

Toss the cooked pasta into the cheese pan over very gentle heat, folding in more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper, and adding more of the saved cooking water to blend. Creaminess ensues.

Don't skimp on the pepper, lash away––the condiment should be quite spicy.
Uncork the red wine and quietly devour at tongue-burning temperature.
(Diet can resume tomorrow)

33 comments:

  1. version #2: add the artichokes (cut "julienne" and fried with olive oil) on top at the end. a bit of mint to finish. delicious....

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  2. I was all ready to say to hell with my diet as well, but the more I look at this recipe the more I think I can enjoy it perfectly happily, along with a salad and some fruit for dessert, and not have a single thing to feel guilty about.

    Can't wait.

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  3. throwing the diet to the wind as well...smells good lola

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  4. I said the same thing tonighr...to hell with the diet and did a pasta e pesto.

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  5. My husband ate his first dish of this in the town of San Gimignano, with the Umbrian thick "strangle the priest" pasta and he thought he had died and gone to heaven!

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  6. I will most definitely have this one for dinner tomorrow... Reads divine!

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  7. I didn't have supper tonight...wish I had all the ingredients on hand right now but the cupboard is bare. It looks fabulous.

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  8. You just brought me back to Roma! My mouth is watering!!!!

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  9. Nom nom nom! I love cacio and pepe... it's the standard "I don't have anything in the house to make" dish for me.

    It's not diet friendly?!? ;)

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  10. Great minds! I made Cacio e Pepe too last night, with a twist. Yours looks great.

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  11. Hi Eleonora, this looks so so delicious and simple - which, to me, is sometimes the best kind of Italian food. And the ingredients are things that are always in the house - except maybe for that specific pasta but I think another one could suffice when desperate!! LOL. Hope all is well. FHFB and I are back home safe and sound, remembering our very wonderful 3 hours spent with you roaming through and eating along the streets of Rome - thank you for a very satisfying and informative stroll. I'll be posting about our trip as soon as I can. Ciao, bella.

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  12. I wasn't even on a diet, but it still looks sinfully good, especially when prepared after midnight !
    :-)

    But is it allowed after love in the afternoon also ?
    :-)

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  13. Yes, love this - so simple and satisfying. Love how it's suddenly trendy. Why would it ever have gone out of style?

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  14. Marco~
    Bella idea aggiungere i carciofi saltati. Ci proverò, grazie!!

    Giovanna~
    Right! If "disassociated" to animal protein, this is actually not that fattening! Depends how much of it you eat, though... ;)

    Brian~
    Thanks. How are you, my friend?

    Foodalogue~
    Pesto! Another huge favorite...

    Patricia~
    I can imagine! Wow, strozzapreti cacio e pepe is a regional mash-up worthy of further investigation!

    Lena~
    Let me know how it turns out for you.

    Carmen~
    Oh, no–a bare cupboard is terrible! Hope you fill it soon.

    Stephanie~
    Welcome back to Roma, then! :)

    Natalie~
    Not diet-friendly in the quantities I make...!

    Elizabeth~
    The pic isn't mine, I didn't have enough light to photograph, so I simply ate in carefree bliss. What was your twist? ;)

    Ann Marie~
    I'm so happy we finally met! We definitely had a tasty time.

    Owen~
    Of course it's allowed after love in the afternoon... actually better!

    Claudia~
    There's a perfect adjective in Italian that fits this, and many other classics: intramontabile, which can be roughly translated to, 'the sun never sets on it.'

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  15. Looks so delicious. I would break any diet for a taste of that too!
    Thanks for the recipe and the mouth watering photo.

    The Wanderfull Traveler
    canadianculinarytravel.blogspot.com/

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  16. Looks so delicious. I would break my diet for that too!
    I love your site. Looks like I have finally found a fellow blogger who loves food as much as I!
    The Wanderfull Traveler

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  17. ma si.... che cavolo di dieta! questa pasta é perfetta! buona e verace!

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  18. Murissa~
    Thank you for your lovely comment, fellow food lover!

    Colores~
    Evviva!

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  19. Life's too short too diet when there's food like this to be had.

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  20. This is a dish that has intrigued me every time I see a recipe or article that describes the dish. So simple to prepare but I have the idea that it can be screwed up quite easily. Having said that, I definitely intend to try this out very soon; maybe tomorrow.

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  21. The Food Hunter said it!!!

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  22. Chmichel~
    True, but the trick is in the pasta cooking water. Quantities of cheese and pepper can be adjusted to taste, there are no set rules. Enjoy!

    Janet~
    I agree!! Nice to see you back here.

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  23. Hi Lola,
    While rambling around the web a little bit this afternoon I stumbled on a muscian who I've loved for a long time, was listening to some of his pieces, came on one which made me think of you right away... give it a listen...

    I love the line where he says :

    Maybe its the scallions
    Maybe she's Italian....

    http://www.deezer.com/listen-5621086

    Enjoy...
    :-)

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  24. Owen~
    Thank you! I followed the link you provided, but got an entire album. Which track were you referring to?

    Projectfoodlab: Italy~
    It's always a good time to come down to Rome!! Ciao!

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  25. Hmmm... sounds interesting, I never thought of its use for post-fornication munchies, but I'll keep it in mind! Looks luscious!
    Many compliments on your blog(s) Eleonora, they are inspiring!

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  26. Eggplant !

    Definitely a song for you...

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  27. Hi Lola!

    It was YUMMO! I had the whole 400gr pasta... I'm never on a diet!!
    I can't wait for rainy season to set in, temperatures will go down and this is one recipe I'm going to use often... :) Thank you, so much for posting it...

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  28. Food Fairies~
    Thank you for your visit, Sara & Nuvola! And for your kind comment. Baci!

    Owen~
    When I click on a song it says, "We're sorry! You can't access this title from your country of residence." Boo :( no eggplant song for me.

    Lena~
    Wow, wonderful! You must be somewhere tropical or in the southern heisphere, because here in Italy we'll be facing 3 months of hotter-than-Hades weather! Thanks for your visit!! Ciao!

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  29. Another recipe I've forgotten over the years. Grazie! Will enjoy this again, soon. N
    cucinananette.blogspot.com

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  30. This looks like the best pasta dish ever! Combining two of my favourite things: pasta and cheese. Definitely going to try it! Thank you

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  31. Nanette~
    Happy to have triggered old memories through sweetness!

    La Cuisine de Sarah~
    Great! Let me know how it turns out, OK? Ciao!

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Eleonora

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