Food And Nutrition

Preparing Cacio e pepe

Three ingredients, three steps to a speedy midweek supper of trendy cacio e pepe (‘cheese and pepper’). Tangy pecorino cheese combines with the pasta cooking water to make a creamy sauce that clings to the pasta.

Ingredients

  • 200g/7oz spaghetti
  • 80g/2¾oz pecorino, finely grated
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • salt

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a saucepan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. About halfway through cooking, scoop out a mugful of the cooking water from the pan.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the cheese and pepper. Gradually incorporate 2–3 tablespoons of the pasta water to create a thick paste. Using the back of a dessertspoon, spread the mixture evenly up the sides of the bowl.

  3. Drain the pasta and leave it to rest for 1 minute, then transfer it to the bowl, quickly swirling the pasta around so that the cheese melts and coats the strands, adding little drizzles of the starchy cooking water as you go to create a glossy sauce. Serve immediately.

Recipe Tips

Use your finest grater to grate the cheese: a small hand-held grater designed for zesting citrus would be ideal.

The grated cheese and pasta cooking water should be at room temperature so they emulsify to make a creamy sauce: this might take a bit of practice. If you can’t get the hang of it after a couple of goes, try adding a slick of double cream to the mix as you add the pasta to help the mixture emulsify.

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