Food You Can Eat: Pasta Cacio e Pepe

I feel like both Cousin M and Butcher have featured versions of this recipe, but I didn’t find it in my site-search. That said, I offer it today because cacio e pepe is a classic for a reason; simple, easy, and delicious, it is grownup mac ‘n cheese.

Cook one pound of pasta in salted water to al dente. You can use whatever you have already, orrecchiette-sized or larger. Reserve some of the cooking water (1 cup or so) and drain, set aside.

Cook 3 tablespoons garlic, 1 tablespoon black pepper, and some hot pepper (to taste) in 6 tablespoons olive oil, in a big pot, until very lightly golden. Add the pasta and 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese*. Add in 1/2 cup of the reserved water and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the remaining water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta.

Serve topped with parsley and some freshly cracked pepper.

*Price of cheese rant. I was unwilling to spend $17.00 a pound for Pecorino Romano. So I used half the “good stuff” and half the much less expensive, more powdery version that comes in a plastic container. The “good stuff” was strong enough to flavor the entire batch.

About Elliecoo 518 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. I have never posted a cacio & pepe recipe but I wrote one up at some point. You might be thinking of one of my thousands of anecdotes, where I confessed that more than once I early on confused the word cacio (cheese) with calcio (soccer, or if not American, football.) Calcio is also the word for calcium, so if you’re told you need to add more calcio to your diet, further explanation might be necessary. As if any Italian needs to be urged to watch more soccer matches.

    • Right? Grocery costs are sure spiraling noticeably upward. I do not think that the half and half cheese mix made any difference in the taste. But then, I do not have Mr. Tucci’s educated palate.

  2. I was catching up on Tucci last night and I was struck again by how small pasta portions were. I’m guessing this recipe would be good for 8-10 servings the size of the ones in the restaurants he visits.

    • In Italy pasta is usually a primo, or first course. Then it’s followed by something else, the secondo. Did he just order pasta and that’s all he got? That would be similar to ordering a side of mashed potatoes as a full meal. There are restaurants that will serve American-sized portions of pasta as a full meal but probably not the ones Stanley Tucci would be featuring on his show.

      • I’m surprised you haven’t been watching Stanley’s show.  He doesn’t really order food.  It’s more that he visits with particular people and they make a dish which is very specific to the region where he is.  I highly recommend catching up on the series.

        • I really have to at some point but it’s been so long since I’ve been to Italy I think that rather than armchair traveling I’d be filled with rage that I am not with Stanley Tucci and just feel worse about my travel-inhibiting tingling leg.

        • Right, it’s more about one dish at a time. Sometimes there are some family style meals where they’ll pass a big bowl of pasta, but even then there’s usually a bunch of other things going around too, and not so much US style where you might have a little salad on the side as the only other thing.

  3. One time my ex made cacio e pepe but the recipe from the internet said 1/3 of  a cup of pepper.

    I told him it was wrong but he insisted it must be correct as that’s what the recipe said.

    Can you imagine, dear reader, if that pasta was edible?

    • Huh. He never suspected something was wrong? Like in any other setting would he have ground or shaken 1/3 cup of pepper into soup or over a steak?

      I think by far the most frequent mishaps (and I have suffered them myself) are when you or the recipe mistakes teaspoons and tablespoons. But that’s only a 3:1 difference and most recipes, when they hit 3 teaspoons, will say something like 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of something, to avoid confusion, and not 5 teaspoons, which disastrously could be imagined to be 5 tablespoons.

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