Cacio e pepe (pasta with pecorino cheese and black pepper sauce) - Lazio
Prep time
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Total time
Cacio e pepe appears at first glance to be a simple Italian dish. There are only 3 ingredients, although this could also be said of bread (which everyone knows to be more complicated to make well than it may seem). Cacio e pepe appears to be just pasta stirred together with some pecorino cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper. If only it was this simple. The reason why I have waited so long to share this favourite Roman dish is that I could not find a way to make it foolproof (myself being the chief fool in this case).
Finally I chanced upon Roscioli's method for cacio e pepe (which is also a base they use in their carbonara and amatriciana) and was a real eye opener.....and fool proof. It involves a bit of advance preparation of blending tepid water with grated cheese and then refrigerating it but saves all the stress and heartache at serving time when the hope-filled eyes of hungry diners are upon you. Even better, this concoction can live in your fridge for a month, ready for any time a last-minute cacio e pepe, amatriciana or carbonara is required.
Recipe type: First Course (Primo)
Cuisine: Lazio
Serves: 4
  1. In a blender, mix well the pecorino cheese with 190 mls tepid water to make a fine cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.
  2. When ready to eat, heat a large pot with 4 litres of water and 40 grams of salt (the salt will be washed away). Boil the pasta, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not stick. Do not add oil to the water, the amount of water should ensure the pasta does not stick. Cook for the amount indicated on the pasta packaging minus 5 minutes.
  3. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.
  4. Drain the pasta and do not rinse.
  5. In a cold saute pan, add the cheese cream.
  6. Add the drained pasta and 40 mls of the pasta cooking water.
  7. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to coat the pasta and using the back of the spoon to smash up any clumps of cheese before it starts to coagulate. Turn the heat on to medium and continue to stirring for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve any small children first and then stir in the black pepper to taste. 6 grams will make it lightly peppery and 10 grams should make it plenty fiery.
  9. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Living a Life in Colour at