Cacio e Pepe is the easiest and, perhaps, most classic of all Italian dishes. It really is so simple to make any night of the week, and it works well for Meatless Monday and these warm summer nights when you don’t want to turn on your oven or heat up the house.
The name Cacio e Pepe translates directly to cheese and pepper, and that’s about all it takes to make a perfect bowl of this pasta.
I make this version with gluten-free spaghetti, which I think works well – the real magic is in the cheese and pepper (hence the name) – in a large skillet vs. a traditional boiling pot of water. The grated cheese, oil, plenty of cracked black pepper and salt is all it takes to get it from stovetop to table in less than 20 minutes. No, this time I really mean it. Less than 20 minutes.
Serve this as a side dish with a huge green salad or a Caprese Salad with fresh mozzarella cheese and garden-fresh tomatoes (that’s how I served it here). Open a crisp bottle of wine or some sparkling water and transport yourself to a faux Italian vacation in your own back yard. Listen, these days I’ll do just about anything to have a little escape from the day-to-day business being thrown at me.
- 1 12-ounce box of gluten-free spaghetti
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
- ½ cup Pecorino Ramano cheese, plus more for serving
- Cracked black pepper
In a large skillet over high heat, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add in 1 tablespoon kosher salt and dried spaghetti.
Return pan to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to move the pasta around and ensure it is all getting cooked.
After 10 minutes, most of the water will have absorbed or evaporated. Turn off the heat and add ¼ cup olive oil right into the skillet. Use a cheese grater – I use my favorite zester – to grate in about ½ cup of Pecorino Ramano cheese into the pan and stir together.
Top with more freshly cracked black pepper than you can imagine needing, at least 1 tablespoon, and stir well to combine.
Serve in a shallow bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil, another sprinkle of grated cheese and more cracked black pepper, as desired.