Meatless Monday Recipe: Cacio E Pepe

People get extremely riled up about Italian recipes, especially when said recipes involve cheese and, especially, cream. It's true that it's not entirely common in Italy to find cream-based sauces (except in the Swiss-adjacent northern region), but that's the beauty of the U.S.: make it how you like it. America's Test Kitchen uses cream in their cacio e pepe; more importantly it calls specifically for Pecorino Romano cheese.

Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen
Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen

Cacio e Pepe, or, Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper
Serves 4 to 6
6 ounces Pecorino Romano, 4 ounces finely grated (about 2 cups) and 2 ounces coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
1 pound spaghetti
Table salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper

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Place finely grated Pecorino in medium bowl. Set colander in large bowl.

Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1½ teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Drain pasta into colander set in bowl, reserving cooking water. Pour 1½ cups cooking water into liquid measuring cup and discard remainder; return pasta to now-empty bowl.

Slowly whisk 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water into finely grated Pecorino until smooth. Whisk in cream, oil, and black pepper. Gradually pour cheese mixture over pasta, tossing to coat. Let pasta rest 1 to 2 minutes, tossing frequently, adjusting consistency with remaining ½ cup reserved pasta water. Serve, passing coarsely grated Pecorino separately.

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