Spaghetti al cacio e pepe

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe. From Rome. This is another recipe that I cook a lot, but have never got around to posting. Spaghetti (vermicelli is a synonym for spaghetti) with pecorino and black pepper sauce. Anyone who has ever been to Rome will know it. It seems like almost every trattoria there has it on the menu.   It is very simple, just three ingredients, but one of my favourite ways to eat pasta. It  is always worth spending a little more to get really good quality ingredients, but it is especially important to use good cheese with this dish. Use a good Pecorino Romano DOC (PDO). Serves 4.

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe finished dish

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe finished dish

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe ingredients

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe ingredients

Roughly crack the pepper corns. You can use a pestle and mortar, or as I do a coffee grinder. How much you add is a matter of taste, but it’s very important that it should be freshly ground. Don’t grind it too finely.

Cracked pepper

Cracked pepper

Cook the pasta until it is al dente  and drain, reserving some of the cooking water.

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe mixing the pasta

Spaghetti al cacio e pepe mixing the pasta

Mix the pasta together with some of the cooking water and most of the cheese. You should obtain a creamy sauce that coats the spaghetti well. If the sauce is too wet, add some more cheese. Likewise, if the sauce is too dry, add some more cooking water. Add the pepper and mix again. Serve topped with the rest of the cheese.

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Panzanella Laziale

Lazio crestPanzanella Laziale. There are probably as many versions of this dish as there are cooks in Italy. This one comes from Lazio. Panzanella is a great way to use up stale bread.

Panzanella ingredients

Panzanella ingredients

  • 1 kilogram stale bread
  • 8 ripe tomatoes — deseed and chopped
  • 1 bunch basil — torn into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • white wine vinegar
  • capers (salted or in vinegar) to taste
  • anchovies to taste
  1. Soften the bread with a little water and tear into smallish pieces.
  2. Mix together the bread, basil, tomatoes, capers and anchovies.
  3. Dress with olive oil and a little vinegar (if the capers are in vinegar don’t add any extra).
  4. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and serve.
  5. Variation: Leave the slices of bread whole and serve topped with the rest of the ingredients.
Panzanella

Panzanella