Cacio e Pepe is one of the four classic Roman pastas. It is the most simple and the one which you can add to in order to make the others – Carbonara, Gricia and Amatriciana. The pasta goes back to ancient times when shepherds would carry cacio cheese, black peppercorns and dried pasta in their sacks. These ingredients were very important as the cheese would keep for a long time, the pepper would protect them against the cold and the pasta provided energy via carbohydrates. Today it is a symbol of Roman food.
1 lb tonnarelli, bucatini or spaghetti pasta
7 ½ oz pecorino Romano cheese, grated. Plus a little extra for serving
Reserved pasta cooking water, about ¼ cup
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it’s heating, grate the pecorino cheese and grind some pepper.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package – or if using fresh pasta, for about 2-3 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking water.
Add the pasta back into the pot and then add the grated cheese and pepper. Stir vigorously to make sure the cheese is completely blended. Gradually add a little of the reserved water – the starch from the pasta water will make the cheese a little creamy and adhere to the pasta.
Serve immediately with the additional cheese for serving and cracked black pepper.