Cacio e Pepe
- 6-7 ounces pasta like pappardelle, linguini, or spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pasta
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Perfect in its minimalism, cacio e pepe, directly translated as cheese and pepper, is a real crowd-pleaser, great for a family meal or a dinner that doubles as lunch the next day. For that buttery taste with less fat, this version combines olive oil and butter in a 2:1 combo. A key to this dish is using freshly ground pepper, so get out your pepper mill and grind away.
Bring a pot of water to boil, drizzle in some olive oil, and season with a palmful of salt. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the pepper (I usually just grind it in directly) and let cook for a few minutes on low heat.
When the pasta is al dente, use a pasta ladle to transfer the pasta directly from the water to the sauté pan. Toss quickly with the olive oil, butter, and pepper over medium-low heat. Add in about a ¼ cup of the pasta water, the cheese, and salt to taste, then keep tossing the pasta until the sauce thickens. Add more pasta water if too dry. Serve with extra cheese on top and grind on some more pepper if you want.