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  • Writer's pictureSheryl Ness

Cacio e Pepe Sauce - A Grown Up Version of Mac and Cheese

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Comfort food has been a mainstay at our house these days - probably yours too. That's why I just had to put this recipe for pici cacio e pepe out on the blog for you to try. We also recorded this out on our Love in a Tuscan Kitchen YouTube Channel! The video gives step-by-step instructions on how to make this delicious and simple pasta. It is one of my family favorites and will be yours too after you give it a try just once!

Cacio e pepe is a traditional Italian sauce from Tuscany and Rome. It translates to cheese and pepper. The cheese used is always a pecorino (semi-aged or aged) and coarse ground black pepper. The secret is to use a little of the salty and starchy pasta water to the sauce as you are making it. Don't skip this part. You can make this sauce with any dried pasta that you have in your pantry. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Stay well everyone!

Pici Cacio e Pepe

Chef Vincenzo Giangiordano

14 ounces pici pasta (you can also use bucatini, spaghetti or any other dried pasta as a substitute if you are unable to find pici)

Coarse sea salt for pasta water (about 4 Tbsp)

6 ounces pecorino cheese, grated

2 tablespoons fresh coarse ground black pepper

4 tablespoons butter

Extra virgin olive oil (for cooking and for serving)

Additional grated pecorino cheese for serving (2 ounces)

Boil water in a large pasta pot. When boiling, add 4 tablespoons coarse sea salt and stir well. Next add the pici or dried pasta of your choice and cook according to the directions on the package. This will vary depending on the thickness of the pici or pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, place a large sauté pan on the stove over medium to low heat. Add ¼ cup of olive oil, butter, grated cheese, and black pepper to the pan to warm slightly. Stir as the cheese is melting. Once the cheese starts to melt, take the pan off the heat.

When the pasta is cooked to al dente, use a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the sauté pan with the cheese and pepper. Place the pan back on medium heat and mix well for about another minute until the cheese coats the pasta well. The secret chef ingredient is to add a spoon or two of the pasta cooking water to the mixture to add flavor and help the sauce come together.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and additional grated pecorino cheese.

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