Dinner Tonight: Cacio e Pepe (Cheese with Pepper)


It was an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s popular No Reservations television show that inspired LeAnn Hall to start making this pasta dish, that Mr. Bourdain dined on while in Rome. The dish is “so easy, simple, and tasty,” Ms. Hall writes, that she wanted to share it with Dinner Tonight readers. She recommends pairing it with colorful vegetables or a side salad.

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese with Pepper)

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces pasta (spaghetti, tagliolini, or other long noodle)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook until toasted, about 1 minute (sometimes, Ms. Hall writes, she combines minced garlic with the pepper).

Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

— LeAnn Hall

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