Coronavirus Isolation Recipes: Cacio e Pepe

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Three ingredients, that’s it. No really, that is all that this wonderful pasta recipe requires. Cacio e Pepe may be a bit of a fancy name but the dish couldn’t be simpler. Pasta, cheese and black pepper. 

In times when money is tighter than ever for all of us, it’s dishes like this that are much needed. Cheap, tasty and can feed a large number of people. Ideally spaghetti is used or tagliatelle but any pasta you have in the cupboard will do just fine. 

What you will need….

A good handful of Spaghetti per person

2-3 large handfuls of Pecorino cheese per person (Parmesan or Grana Padano work well too)

1 tsp black peppercorns per person (You can use ground black pepper also)

How to make it…..

Place the peppercorns into a dry pan and turn up the heat to medium-high. I saw Bradley Cooper in the film ‘Burnt’ lean over Sienna Miller’s shoulder and say that this gives a better flavour. She didn’t seem to agree at the time but I think he had a point. 

Once the peppercorns are lovingly toasted and just releasing that peppery scent, place them into a pestle and mortar. Grind until you are happy with the level of coarseness. Set this aside while the pasta cooks. 

Fill a saucepan with boiling water and add a generous pinch of salt. Add in the pasta and cook for around 8 minutes, or according to packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking away, grate the cheese on a fine grater and set aside. 

Drain the pasta but retain the water. This is key to making the sauce. In the pan used to toast the peppercorns (or in a separate pan if you’re using readily ground pepper) turn the heat to low and add the pasta. 

Quickly sprinkle in the cheese (leave a little bit back for finishing the dish) and black pepper. Toss the pasta in the cheese and pepper and add a couple of spoons full of the pasta water. Keep tossing the pasta until you get a glossy sauce that coats the strands.

The Taste?

Well there it is, the easiest pasta dish known to man. Also, this is one of the tastiest. The dish originated in Rome, a place where the people are thought to be ‘lazy’. This is the perfect lazy day meal. 

The cheese and pepper amalgamate with the pasta water to create a creamy and spicy sauce that goes perfectly with the pasta. You really could use any pasta for this and get a decent result. 

As with any recipe, the better quality the ingredients, the better the end result. Use what you have and enjoy making this delicious taste of Italy time and again. 

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