Cacio e Pepe translates from Italian to “cheese and pepper” and, as simple as that name is, the dish is even simpler. Some people call it an Italian version of mac and cheese but it’s much more refined than that. With toasted pepper and plenty of butter and cheese, this version, from Bon Appetit, is an easy and hearty meal to round down the weekend.
(image and adapted recipe from Bon Appetit)
12 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.