Simple, yet effective. What more could you possibly want in a meal? Well ok, I guess delicious is an important factor too, but I've got that one covered with this recipe, I promise. Tonight I thought I would make some spaghetti aglio e olio, but I changed my mind cause I like to put chili in that one and I'm just not feeling it tonight. Soooo, I went with linguine cacio e pepe, instead. In English, that simply means cheese and pepper linguine.
I am not the biggest fan of pepper, but my husband is, and he tells me it's hereditary, so I humour him and make this for dinner sometimes. All you need is pasta, cheese, butter, olive oil, pepper and salt, -most of which you probably already have in your kitchen, which is why this dish is perfect.
Linguine Cacio e Pepe
1lb of linguine
1/8 cup of coarsely ground fresh pepper (from your pepper mill)
very generous pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano (or any Romano)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of starchy pasta water
I think that the cheese really makes or breaks this dish, so I try to use a nice Parmigiano-Reggiano, but if I don't feel like spending a million dollars on cheese, I'll skimp on the Pecorino Romano and just get whatever Romano is in my comfort zone, price-wise. So if you want to impress your dinner companions, go all the way and splurge on some truly excellent cheeses, you won't regret it.
Bring some water to a boil in a stock pot, and while that's heating up, toast the pepper in another pot on medium heat, just for half a minute or so. It will start to get very peppery and delicious smelling in your kitchen, but resist the urge to stick your nose in the pot to take a big whiff or you will end up choking/sneezing/coughing rather ungracefully.
Next, add the olive oil and butter. It will bubble up beautifully and smell delicious! Once your butter is all melted, remove your pot from heat for now.
Once your water is boiling, ad a very generous pinch of kosher salt to it (I like it cause it's less intensely salty) and throw the linguine in. 9 minutes should do it. Before you throw out the pasta water, make sure to scoop out half a cup to save for later.
Drain your pasta and add it to your pepper concoction along with 1/4 cup of the pasta water. I like to turn the heat on medium low while I mix it up (use tongs, it's easiest). Take it off the heat and add your cheeses. You can save some of the parm for garnishing your dish later, or you could just grate some more afterwards, up to you.
Yes mum, cheese is high in cholesterol, and butter and olive oil is fat. Don't worry, we don't eat this every day. (My mother is a dietitian and most likely disapproves. hahaha)
A nice cherry tomato and bocconcini salad would pair perfectly with this.