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Lunch / Dinner

Cacio e Pepe

When a modest meal is your objective, it’s pretty much a no-brainer to turn to the Roman pasta dish, Cacio e Pepe [kah-choh eh PAY-pay], which means cheese and pepper in Italian. Besides those two mainstays and the pasta, the only other ingredients in this version are olive oil and butter (and a little pasta water). But when a dish is this simple, for the best flavor, use quality ingredients — in particular, look for imported Pecorino Romano. Basically you just toss the cheese with the hot pasta until creamy, adding pasta water as needed. The heat of the pasta melts the cheese, while a little hot, starchy pasta water emulsifies everything so the dish becomes ultra creamy. Then an easy Italian-inspired salad with fresh peaches is all you need for the simplest, summer supper.


4 servings

Total Time

20 minutes

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Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauté pan over medium until nearly shimmering; add pepper and cook until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add ¼ cup pasta water from pasta pot. Off heat, stir in butter until melted.

Transfer spaghetti from pot to sauté pan using tongs, tossing with pepper mixture to coat; reserve 1½ cups pasta water.

Off heat, sprinkle ¾ cup Pecorino into pan and toss with spaghetti until melted, adding more pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, until it reaches a creamy consistency; serve immediately. Top servings with additional pepper and remaining ¼ cup Pecorino.


Toasting the peppercorns until fragrant and beginning to brown intensifies their flavor.


For the best results, be sure to toss the pasta with the pepper mixture, cheese, and pasta water off heat.

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