cacio e pepe

I wanted to share this very simple (but traditional) pasta dish with you. I had seen it circling the web lately and thought I would chime in with my recipe, which I have been making since I was a kid. I chose Italian cooking class here instead of summer camp one year when I was about ten, yep, just me and the rest of the grownups. The first thing they taught us was this dish (along with how to make pasta).  I want to say, that this dish completely depends on the quality of ingredients you get, because it is so simple, you only need three things, they should be top quality. I make my own pasta every now and then, but honestly for the most part I buy the store bought fresh pasta, and it’s almost as good, and takes three minutes to cook and prepare, and lets face it, making pasta is kind of an ordeal. So I urge you to buy the freshest cheese you can, and good quality pasta.The rest is all about timing, and constantly stirring and tossing.


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino
Here’s what you do:


Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water. 
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute. 
Add  about 1/2 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 Romano allowing the cheese to melt and blend., 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. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon over entire dish if you like, and add a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro. I added this last bit on my own, it’s not traditional but I love lemon, and especially on a simple pasta dish.
*You can do it w/o the butter but this is how I was taught, and I’ve tried it both ways, and lets face it, butter is love.
Since I have been making this for so many years with-out a recipe, I had to rely a bit on the measurements from here.  This is  perfect for when you are just craving carby comfort food.