It’s been three months and I’m going through Italy withdrawal. As I start reviewing pictures from 2013 and printing out memories for new decorations, I get that post-vacation nostalgia that makes me miss traveling and reminds me it was worth every penny.
So to take me back, I decided to re-create one of the best Italian meals I enjoyed to fulfill that hunger for all things Italy.
My new favorite part of Rome is Travestere, an area on the southwest side of the city where, as Danielle had educated me, is more of a young local hangout for the locals and less touristy than the heart of the city. When we had our night out together, we ate at a place named for its signature dish, Cacio e Pepe. Tom ordered this specialty and I loved it so much I ordered it again when we returned to Travestere to eat at another restaurant favorite, Da Otello.
This pasta is so unique, I’ve never even seen it in the US. It’s very simple – and easy to make – with just fresh cracked pepper and a mix of velvety and sharp cheeses.
When we had this in Italy, it was served with perciatteli, the hollow spaghetti, and I think it makes this dish just a little extra Italian. However, it can be hard to find in the grocery store, so regular spaghetti works too.
Just boil the pasta with lots of salt, just before al dente. Save about 1 cup of pasta water.
Serve with a good bottle of wine and it’s just like you’re in Italy!
For the full recipe, see below. I have a new tool to make viewing, saving, and printing recipes easier – so enjoy!
Cacio e Pepe
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb. pasta such as bucatini, pergiatelli or spaghetti
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter divided
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino
Cook pasta in well-salted water, until about 2 minutes before al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
Just before pasta is finished, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add pepper and cook about 1 minute while swirling the pan.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Parmesan, tossing until melted. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts and sauce coats the pasta. Add more pasta water if necessary.
Serve and top with additional Parmesan as desired.
Adapted from Bon Appetit