Cacio e pepe is translated to “cheese and pepper” in the Italian culture. My family has been making Cacio e pepe for years…we just didn’t know it.
What is Cacio e Pepe?
Cacio e pepe is a very simple Italian dish that has several variations, none of which consist of more than 6 ingredients: pasta, pasta water, butter, salt, pepper, and Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano). Occasionally, you’ll see an egg yolk thrown in, reminiscent of a carbonara. The most common and simplistic variation is pasta, pasta water, salt, pepper, and Pecorino.
Why make cacio e pepe?
As the mom of the ultimate picky eater, we are always looking for dinner choices that are quick, easy, filling, and picky eater approved.
Enter Cacio e pepe…or as we call it in our house “butter noodles”.
We started making these noodles for my youngest daughter whenever we would have pasta for dinner. We would just separate the noodles from our meal, add a little butter and salt, then top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is surprisingly delicious and so incredibly simple.
Easy 15 minutes meal idea
What’s even better? It can be on the table in 15 minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight meal.
How to make Cacio e Pepe?
Start by filling a medium pot halfway with water, add a generous amount of salt, and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 lb spaghetti noodles. Boil until barely al dente, about 6 minutes. It should have a very firm bite, but not be crunchy.
Next, add 1 heaping tsp of freshly ground pepper to a large skillet.
Add 2 TBSP of butter.
Heat over medium low heat until butter is melted.
Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water and add to the skillet with the butter and pepper. Increase heat to medium until water comes to a simmer.
After about 6 minutes drain the pasta.
Add pasta to the skillet.
Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes
Add 2 oz freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese. Stir well until cheese is melted.
Cacio e Pepe: Cheese and Pepper Noodles
- 1/2 lb uncooked spaghetti noodles
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups pasta water
- 2 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese grated
- additional freshly ground pepper and cheese for garnish optional
- Fill a medium sauce pan halfway with water.
- Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Add the spaghetti noodles and boil until al dente, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile add the freshly ground pepper to a large skillet.
- Add the butter.
- Heat over medium low heat until butter is melted.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Drain the pasta and add to skillet. Increase heat to medium high and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
- Check the pasta for tenderness, continue cooking if too firm.
- Add the grated cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and coats the noodles.
- Plate and finish with extra freshly ground pepper and cheese if desired.