Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with Cheese and Black Pepper)

Cacio e Pepe, I believe, means “cheese and pepper” in Italian.  (Any foreign language majors out there, feel free to correct me!) It’s the simplest of all Italian dishes, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a great thing.

This would make a great side dish to pretty much anything.  It’s simple, light, and surprisingly spicy.  It only takes 2 pans, 5 ingredients, and about 15 minutes of your time.  I’d say it’s a winner.

The original recipe calls for Romano cheese, and my preference would actually be shredded Parmesan (or Gruyere, the best cheese on the planet), however all I had in my refrigerator was an Italian Blend, so I used that. Long story short, use whatever cheese makes you feel like more of a woman. (Or man). Let’s get to it before the rambling goes too far.

Cacio e Pepe
(Adapted, slightly, from deepsreddy on, as always, Tasty Kitchen)

-1/2 pound uncooked spaghetti
-1 tablespoon butter (I used Smart Balance)
-1/2 cup shredded cheese (Romano, Parmesan, Italian blend– your choice)
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons black pepper (the more freshly cracked the better)

Boil spaghetti until al dente in salted water. Drain the pasta, but reserve the water. Heat the butter and 1/2 cup pasta water in a large saute pan. When the butter is melted, add the pasta and toss well. Add salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup cheese, toss well until the cheese melts. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with the rest of the pepper and cheese just before serving.

Crazy how easy this was. (And, if you’re wondering, 1 cup of this adds up to about 300 calories… not that you asked, or that you’re counting calories, or still trying to lose weight from a wedding 6 months ago.)

-Kelsey May


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