Cacio e Pepe

In his recent entertaining TV series, Searching for Italy, actor Stanley Tucci goes in search of four iconic pasta dishes which he describes as  staggering in their simplicity: rigatoni amatriciana, spaghetti cacio e pepe, spaghetti carbonara and pasta alla gricia. This creamy luscious spaghetti cacio e pepe uses just three ingredients and reveals the genius of Roman working class cucina rustica. Serve it immediately, hot from the pan, so that the cheese doesn’t begin to set.


About this Recipe

By Sheridan Rogers

There are a few important steps when making this simple dish and if you follow them, I guarantee you’ll be delighted with the result. I was helped by Alessandra’s video and paid careful attention to toasting the ground pepper, adding the starchy pasta water to the cheese (to ensure creaminess) then adding the spaghetti and a little pasta water to the ground pepper. Bronze-extruded spaghetti helps the creamy sauce to cling to the pasta.
At Bistrot 64 in Rome, chef Kotaro Noda uses 70% Pecorino Romano and 30% Parmigiano, a mix you might like to try. A little grated aged Pecorino Romano over the top adds an extra umami deliciousness.


Serves 2

  • bronze-extruded spaghetti, 250g
  • Pecorino Romano, 80g, finely grated
  • ground black pepper, approx 1/2 – 1 teaspoon

To cook the spaghetti for this recipe, use half to two-thirds the amount of water you usually use because the starchy cooking water is needed in a few of the steps. Bring the water to the boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and the spaghetti. Cook until almost al dente – you don’t want it fully cooked as it will finish cooking in the creamy cheese and pepper sauce.
Meanwhile, scatter the ground pepper over the base of a medium frying pan and dry-fry for about a minute. Add a ladle (about 1/3 cup) of the pasta cooking water to the pan and let simmer, then add another ladle and simmer again.
Put the grated Pecorino cheese into a medium bowl and stir through a ladle of the pasta cooking water.  Add another ladle to make a creamy sauce.
Drain the spaghetti and add it to the frying pan.  Stir through the creamy cheese and stir for about a minute or until you have a creamy sauce on the base of the pan.  The is called mantecare  so that the sauce thickens and develops the desired creaminess.
Serve immediately while hot, adding more grated cheese and ground pepper to taste.