Cacio e Pepe is a classic and delicious Italian dish that is made with pasta, garlic, olive oil, pepper and Parmesan. It takes no time at all to whip up this dish and it can easily be made with just staples in your fridge and pantry.
In our house we call this “emergency pasta” or “Italian Fast Food” because it is our go to dish when we are in a rush or just need a quick meal to make because we are too tired to cook a big meal. We often use this dish as the meal we return home to after a long vacation as well because pasta, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan are all things that we can leave in our house (or fridge in the case of the cheese) and they are still good when we return home.
We never worry about what meal are going to eat after vacation when we have an emptied out fridge and are too tired to grocery shop after traveling. We also don’t wait for coming back from vacations to make this dish. This meal is so delicious despite its simplicity and should be part of your cooking repertoire instead of ordering out!
Cacio e Pepe
- 1 box of spaghetti or thin spaghetti
- 5 cloves of garlic finely minced
- a pinch of red pepper flakes don’t worry it wont be spicy!
- a healthy amount of fresh ground black pepper for plating
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- sprinkling of fresh basil or fresh parsely optional
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan cheese) for pasta and the topping
- 1 cup of reserved pasta water see directions below
- freshly grated black pepper
- For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil for your pasta, finely mince up your garlic.
- In a large saute pan over medium heat, add your olive oil and red pepper flakes.
- Next add your garlic and turn down your heat to medium low and carefully simmer your garlic making sure not to let it brown but just get nice and soft.
- Once your garlic is simmering, add a pinch of salt to sweat out some of that garlic flavor. At this point, check your pasta water to see if your pasta is ready to go in to your large pot.
- When ready throw a a good a big pinch of salt (I like my pasta water to be salty like ocean water into the water then your pasta and stir well so the pasta does not stick and cook it according to the box instructions for al dente.
- After your pasta has been cooking for a minute, grab a coffee mug and scoop out a mug full of pasta water. You will need this to add to the saute pan later. Once pasta is cooked, drain and add to your saute pan with the garlic, olive oil.
- Mix it in well to coat all of your pasta with the yummy garlic and olive oil mixture. Keep cooking your pasta in the saute pan for a minute or two (you will notice the pasta will start to drink up that olive oil mixture).
- Now add 1/4 cup of your Romano Cheese and about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Mix it all in to the pasta so you can start getting a creamy sauce forming.
- When you see the pan looking dry and not too much sauce remaining, add a little bit (about an 1/8 of a cup of the reserved pasta water from the mug and mix for 1 more minute.
- Now, turn off your heat and season to taste with salt and lots of pepper.
- Plate your pasta in 4 large bowls topping each with a good sprinkling of the remaining fresh Romano cheese (or Parmesan) and serve with fresh ground black pepper on the side.
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