Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, or spaghetti with Pecorino cheese and black pepper, is a traditional recipe from Rome, which originated centuries ago among the shepherds of the Latium and Abruzzi regions.
Simple, earthy and with an unexpectedly mild taste, this spaghetti recipe is perfect either for a quick weeknight dinner or for a get together with friends as a warming primo piatto.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 5):
- 1 pound (500 g.) of spaghetti
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (100 g.) of grated Pecorino or Romano cheese
- Bring a tall pot of water to a boil, then add a generous tablespoon of salt to it (don’t worry; you won’t get all that salt in your system).
- Throw the spaghetti pasta in, stir and gently push it under the water. For all of you who normally do it, no oil in the water! It is not necessary to keep spaghetti from sticking together, trust me; all you have to do is use abundant water, stir the pasta occasionally and maintain a live boil in the water, which will naturally separate the noodles while cooking.
- Depending on the brand and kind of dough, it takes normally 9 to 11 minutes for spaghetti to cook. However, you want them cook al dente, or “to the tooth”, which means cooked, but not soft, and firm in the center when chewed.
- Drain the spaghetti, reserving a little of the cooking water, toss immediately in a warm serving bowl and sprinkle the freshly ground black pepper and the grated Pecorino cheese. Mix quickly while adding a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water, just enough to moisten and melt the cheese, which will become slightly creamy.
- Serve at once bringing to the table some extra cheese and black pepper for any “ambitious” party member.
Note: Adding garlic bread to pasta does not complete the dish, it just doubles the carbs, fat and calories. Keep the pasta servings on the small side – like we do it in Italy – followed by a small salad or veggies with some lean protein. Now you have a complete meal by definition, more balanced and healthier.
Pairing Wine Note: If you chose to drink wine with your meal, either a white or red will be absolutely indicated for this Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper. Choose a good Chianti as red, and Vermentino or Orvieto as whites. A Pinot Grigio or Cabernet would also be good choices.
Whichever your choice of wine, always remember to drink with moderation.
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