If you love simple and easy pasta dishes, this spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe is totally for you! This silky and creamy pasta is made with just spaghetti noodles, cheese, lots and lots of black pepper, plus one secret ingredient that makes it foolproof every time…
Cacio e Pepe Recipe
I’ve been a Rachael Ray fan girl since day one. Picture me back in 2001: just 11 months wed and about 4 months pregnant, still struggling with morning (really ALL DAY) sickness. Coming home from work with barely enough energy to slap together a PB&J, let alone cook a full meal…
And suddenly 30 Minute Meals makes its Food Network debut, and it’s SUCH a refreshing change of pace. Rachael was so real and truly had a knack for making me feel like she was speaking to ME and only me. Her meals looked so easy, and I loved that they were all real food based. And just 30 minutes? I think I can manage that.
Let’s just say we ate a LOT of 30-minute meals that year. I won’t say they were all a homerun, but most were good enough, and a few are gems that I still make today. Like this divine parmesan crusted chicken and the most foolproof cacio e pepe recipe you will ever make!
What Is Cacio e Pepe?
Wait, you’re not sure what cacio e pepe pasta is? Oh, girl, you have been missing out! If you adore a good 3-ingredient pasta dish (olive oil pasta, anyone?), I know you will totally fall for this easy cacio e pepe.
Okay, so at its most basic, an authentic cacio e pepe recipe is simply Pecorino Romano cheese, pasta, and lots and lots of black pepper. In fact, cacio e pepe literally means “cheese and pepper” in Italian. The secret? It uses the hot starchy water from cooking the pasta to bind everything together into a rich and creamy comfort food pasta that’s just as ideal for a quick and easy dinner as it is for entertaining guests.
Is there a catch? Well, sort of… Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? Yeah, mixing Pecorino Romano cheese and starchy cooking water can be just about as difficult. Combining them into a creamy delicious sauce without any clumps can be challenging, to say the least. But Rachael has the secret to making it work EVERY TIME!
How To Make Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
Start by cooking your pasta in a large pot of salted water until it’s just a couple minutes shy of al dente. I used a flat spaghetti (also known as chitarra or tonnarelli), but feel free to make spaghetti cacio e pepe with the regular spaghetti you normally keep in your pantry. It’s all good!
While the pasta is cooking, bring a cup-and-a-half of water to a low boil in a large skillet. When the pasta is ready, ladle out about half a cup of the starchy cooking water, and then drain the pasta.
Here’s the secret to making the magic happen: whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch into the reserved cooking water, and then whisk this mixture into the boiling water in the skillet. Whisk in the cheese, and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens (about 3-4 minutes). Toss the cooked pasta in the cheese sauce, add in LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
Best Cacio e Pepe Recipe
Bam! Silky, creamy, and totally amazing pasta cacio e pepe every. single. time. While it’s not a truly authentic cacio e pepe, I think it’s the BEST cacio e pepe recipe. The cornstarch serves to stabilize the cheese sauce, making it truly foolproof without changing the flavor.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a recipe that works consistently over a fussy authentic recipe any day!
Are you drooling, yet? Some side dish suggestions are this Italian chopped salad or this 15-minute homemade garlic bread (or both if you’re hosting guests). Either way, I wouldn’t count on any leftovers. Enjoy!
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P.S. Want another amazingly easy cheesy pasta recipe? This Instant Pot cream cheese pasta can’t be beat!! Have it on your table ready to serve with just 5 ingredients in under 20 minutes…