Cacio e Pepe
You can wow ’em with phyllo-topped mac and cheese or carrot gnocchi. But sometimes simplicity wins out. That’s why everyone should know how to make cacio e pepe, pasta with cheese and pepper. (What could be bad about that?)
The Italian classic requires just six ingredients (four, if you don’t count salt and pepper) and takes 20 minutes to whip up—including the time it takes to boil the water. Even better, you likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen ready to go. Our tip? Pecorino Romano, a sheep's milk cheese, is traditional, but if you only have Parmesan, that’s just as delicious. The freshly ground black pepper, however, is nonnegotiable.
12 ounces spaghetti
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until just al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. While the pasta cooks, mash the soft butter with the olive oil and Pecorino in a large bowl to form a paste.
3. When the pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti directly to the bowl with the butter mixture. Toss well to coat, adding the pasta water as needed to make a thick, creamy sauce that coats the pasta strands. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the pasta among four plates; serve immediately.