“Cheese and pepper” in Italian, this quintessential cacio e pepe pasta is super simple and fabulously delicious! We take a slightly different approach with our cacio e pepe sauce to make it a bit healthier and still super tasty! We use a combination of olive oil and butter in ours, and then brown both with the freshly cracked black pepper over very low heat to give it an amazingly rich flavor. Slowly brown the butter and olive oil with the black pepper until the butter begins to foam and turns golden brown and little crystals begin to form. This process takes about 40 minutes or so over very low heat. This recipe can be sped up if you are not so much interested in the richer flavor of brown butter, by simply using melted butter. But, it is really, really, really good with the brown butter and pepper! Then just keep the butter mixture warm or reheat it when you are ready to assemble the pasta. Top it with Pecorino Romano and Parmegiano Reggiano and you have a simply divine cacio e pepe meal. Oh, and so we don’t take all of the credit, this is a recipe that Daddage-man (Suz’ husband and Courtsie’s dad) has curated over time through trial and error and we think it’s the absolute best!
Our favorite pasta for this dish is homemade capellini, but the traditional pasta for this dish is either bucatini, which is a thick round pasta with a tube down the middle like a straw, or tonnarelli, which is thick round long pasta, a wee bit thicker than spaghetti. What we love about the capellini is that the slender pasta works so well with the light butter and cheese sauce. You can use fresh, store-bought angel hair (capellini) pasta, or make your own! We have a great recipe for homemade pasta below. We use our favorite Atlas Marcato 150 pasta maker with the capellini attachment and it comes out perfectly every time … well almost every time. The reason the pasta dough changes from time to time is due to the size of the eggs you use. It turns out that not all “large” eggs are made equal! So, we make tiny adjustments as we go!
Whether you use store-bought, or take the time to make your own pasta, this cacio e pepe pasta recipe will become a favorite of yours in no time!
Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e Pepe
- 10 oz. fresh angel hair pasta (capellini), store bought or homemade Our homemade recipe is below!
- 3 tbsp. salted butter
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
- 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, divided
- 1/3 cup pasta water
- salt and extra fresh ground pepper to taste
- Heat butter, olive oil and black pepper over very low heat until butter starts to turn golden brown, bubbly and little solid bits start to appear.
- Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. We put a teaspoon of oil in the pasta water to keep it from boiling over the top of the pot.
- Remove 1 cup of the pasta water from the pot and set aside in a small sauce pan over low heat.
- Drain pasta until it is almost drained, but a little bit of liquid remains.
- Return pasta to the pasta pot and stir in the brown butter mixture. Then stir in one half cup of each of the cheeses. Stir well. Now, add just enough of the hot pasta water to arrive at a creamy consistency. This part is not scientific, just add a little at a time until you like what you are seeing! Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot in warmed pasta bowls and garnish with remaining grated cheeses.
Homemade Capellini Noodles
- 5 oz. extra fine flour (all-purpose will also work) We use the Anna Napoletana Tipo “00” Extra Fine Flour
- 5 oz. semolina flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2-3 large egg yolks You may not need 3, but add enough to be able to gather the dough into a ball. This is a bit of a trial and error due to the varying size of eggs! Even among “large‘ eggs!
- Mix salt with flour and place on a large cutting board, or in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour.
- Break eggs together and mix well and pour into the well of the flour.
- Start mixing with a fork, bringing more and more flour into the mixture as you go.
- Finally, gather the dough together into a ball, incorporating as much of the flour as you can. The dough will be pretty stiff at this point. Knead dough for 8-10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed.
- Form dough into two discs and wrap with plastic wrap.
- When you are ready to roll out and cut the pasta, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling it out.
- Now, using your favorite pasta maker with the capellini attachment, (we LOVE our Atlas Marcato 150 hand crank pasta maker) roll dough to desired thickness and then cut into capellini strips using the attachment.
- Hang your pasta on a drying rack to dry for several hours before cooking.