Garlic cacio e pepe has been on my mind for a while now and the time has come to share my amazement over how few ingredients and little effort is needed to produce this simple, delicious plate of food.
Cacio e pepe is an Italian classic at its best. With an addition of garlic, it easily satisfies my balanced spice flavour loving pallet. This simple pasta dish glorifies the unique combination of Pecorino cheese married to freshly ground black pepper, although using mixed peppercorns instead is definitely food for thought!
What goes in garlic cacio e pepe
Pasta – long and skinny pasta works the best: tagliatelle, fettuccine, linguine, bucatini or spaghetti. BTW. Here is an awesome technique of making your own pasta without a pasta machine!
Cheese – Apparently Pecorino Romano is the original cheese of cacio e pepe, but using a mixture of Pecorino and Parmesan works very well as well in my opinion.
And than we have the black pepper, which cacio e pepe is so famous for.
Now I have a bit of a confession to make. Before I first had the cacio e pepe I gave very little thought to black pepper.
It is there. Clinging to salt all the time, so what? Frankly, unless we’re talking smoked salmon with a sprinkle of lemon and a few twists of a black pepper grinder, black pepper sauce covered steak or any Italian pasta dish with freshly twisted black pepper over it, I never thought of black pepper as an ingredient which actually produces any significant amount of flavour. A spicy kick, which sharpens or enhances other flavours, yeah, sure…but that’s about it.
I must sound naive here, but I am no chef and I suppose realising my own misconceptions is a part of this food blogging process! But that was before the cacio e pepe and consequently the garlic cacio e pepe, which entered my life a few years ago. I do apologize, dear pepper, for thinking so little of your flavour producing qualities most of my life!
I am much better now and I have even found this interesting read about the journey of the black pepper from the East to European kitchens and this one about how apparently in the 16th century, pepper was a currency preferred more than gold! And here another pepper article from the International Pepper Community! Ha! Here is an idea: an International Garlic Community! What do yo think?
Butter and garlic are the last two ingredients. Oh, c’mon, admit it yourself! Every time you put garlic and Parmesan or Pecorino together, magic happens! They are just meant for each other and this is why I was brave enough to put the Garlic Matters stamp on this classic!
Reserve 15 minutes, 2 pans and an empty stomach as this dish will fill you up quicker than you think! You might as well put your skinny diet on hold – this recipe is not shy on calories my friends!
- 170g pasta such as tagliatelle, fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
- 1 cup (about 100g) finely grated Pecorino (or mixture of Pecorino and Parmesan)
- Using a tall saucepan bring 2.5 liters of water, season with salt. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain the pasta and make sure to also reserve ¾ cup starchy pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a wide pan melt the butter over a medium-low heat. Add garlic and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup reserved, pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta, reduce heat to low and stir in the cheese until melted. Remove pan from heat. If the pasta seems to dry add a little more of the reserved water. Serve immediately.