Cacio e pepe, a classic Italian dish, relies on starchy pasta cooking water to form a creamy emulsion with butter and cheese, often Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, and it couldn’t be more delicious or simple. I like simple right now.
This one comes from YouTube star Laura Vitale, and her cookbook, Laura in the Kitchen, which is filled with recipes influenced by her southern Italian roots, and most especially, her nonna, who makes many a guest appearance on her show: Nonna’s stuffed peppers, Nonna’s stuffed calamari, Nonna’s spaghetti and clams. When Laura felt homesick after moving to the US at age 12, her nonna told her to “cook a pot of sauce,” which she did, and which instantly made her feel better. She’s been cooking ever since, and in 2009 launched her YouTube show, Laura in the Kitchen, which now includes over 850 cooking tutorials.
UPDATE: GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED: I have emailed you: Peg, Aaron, Peter, Anne and Nancy. Clarkson Potter generously passed along 5 copies of Laura in the Kitchen for the giveaway! Leave a comment to enter. Tell me your favorite easy thing to make right now.
Note: I salted the water with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt because I was nervous about the finished dish being too salty since you use ½ cup of the cooking liquid. I added more salt to taste at the end.
- 12 oz. dried spaghetti or linguini
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon freshly crack black pepper or more or less to taste
- Bring a large pot of generously salted (see notes above) water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes fewer than the package recommends. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the starchy cooking water.
- Return the starchy cooking water to the pot. Add the butter and cheeses and cook over low heat until butter melts and cheese and water emulsify into a sauce. Add the pasta and pepper and toss to coat. Taste, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat. Cover. Let stand for 1 minute, then serve.