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Cacio e Pepe, A Roman Classic

Beth Ribblett

 Every trip to Rome should include a plate of Cacio e Pepe!

Every trip to Rome should include a plate of Cacio e Pepe!

In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Rome, I cooked a simple, classic pasta dish last night for friends.  Inspired by Katie Parla's cookbook, Tasting Rome, I wanted to make something quick but unmistakably Roman and Cacio e Pepe was the perfect dish.

Loving the food culture and history of Rome, I bought this cookbook recently after reading a few reviews and was not disappointed!  Katie Parla and photographer Kristina Gill capture Rome's unique character and truly evolved food culture - a culmination of two thousand years of history!

Many recipes for Cacio e Pepe call for Parmigiano cheese, but really there is no substitute for freshly grated Pecorino Romano.  This sheep's milk cheese has been made in the region since ancient times and it is what gives this dish it's unique tangy bite!

From Katie Parla's "Tasting Rome":

Ingredient List
Sea salt
1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli (I used Bucatini)
2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Instructions
SERVINGS: 4 to 6

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1½ cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, close your eyes and picture yourself outside sitting around the Campo di Fiori in Rome...