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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Orecchiette with cauliflower

This is another local Pugliese classic. Be careful not to overcook the cauliflower as the slightly crunchy texture is very important. The original recipe included  2 tablespoons of olive oil, but I thought the lardo provided enough fat. Feel free to re-add it though. Next time I will probably halve the amount of lardo and use 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  If you want to know exactly what lardo is, follow this link. Serves 4

orecchiette with cauliflower ingredients

orecchiette with cauliflower ingredients

  • 400 g orecchiette
  •  1 medium  cauliflower — separated into small florets
  •   70 grams  lardo — cut into small cubes
  •   5 tablespoons  Pecorino — grated
  1. Boil the cauliflower florets until still quite firm – or molto al dente as it was explained to me
  2. Fry the lardo in a pan until it has almost completely dissolved
  3. Add the cauliflower and fry in the fat for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the cooked orecchiette to the pan and mix well
  5. Serve with the pecorino
orecchiette with cauliflower finished dish

orecchiette with cauliflower finished dish