Cacio e Pepe – from Cookie Cooks

This is Italian cooking at its best. It’s basically pasta with cheese (ideally made from sheep’s milk) and black pepper. It’s a deceptively simple-sounding Roman dish, but the secret is all in the technique; you can search Youtube to see an expert doing it. 

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 160g Pecorino Romano, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper 

Serves 4

Add the spaghetti to a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta over a bowl so you keep the cooking water.

Return the spaghetti to the pan and mix in the olive oil and some black pepper. Add two ladlefuls of cooking water and sprinkle on the Pecorino. Toss it into the spaghetti using two forks; if
it’s too dry, add a bit more pasta water, and if there is too much water, add more Pecorino. Give it a really good grind of pepper, and keep tossing. What you are trying to achieve is a creamy soft sauce: to start with there will be lumps of melted cheese and the water will separate out, but if you keep on tossing it will come together. Give it yet more black pepper, toss again, and serve immediately.

Buy Cookie Cooks by Melanie McCallum & Domenico Del Priore here