As in all dishes that rely upon only a few ingredients the quality of these makes a difference. Imported, freshly grated Pecorino Romano is essential as is freshly ground black pepper.
I like Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe as side dish for Roasted Dungeness Crab. This pairing is inspired by a meal I had at Crustacean in San Francisco where roasted garlic crab and garlic noodles are the mainstay attractions. In a nod to the noodles at Crustacean I have added a couple of cloves of garlic to this recipe for Cacio e Pepe. Not traditional, I know, but a bit of garlic flavor goes well with the crab.
The approximate quantities for the amounts of cheese and pepper used are listed below. But, be forewarned I don’t actually measure these. The cheese is grated directly into the pan until it looks right, as is the black pepper.
The recipe serves one, but can be easily be scaled up for more.
- ¼ pound (approximately) of fresh or dried spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons everyday olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or to taste
- 12 grinds fresh black pepper, or to taste
- Squeeze of fresh lemon wedge (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Bring 6 cups of generously salted water to a boil. (The only salt in this dish is what transfers from the cooking water with the pasta.) Place spaghetti in the water and cook according to package directions. Remove and drain spaghetti when done al dente.
- Heat oil in a sauté pan and then add minced garlic to cook briefly. Add cooked spaghetti to the pan and toss. Grate Pecorino Romano into the pan with the spaghetti. Add freshly ground black pepper and toss again. Place cooked spaghetti on a serving plate, top with parsley and serve. Optionally, the juice of one lemon wedge can be added to the spaghetti either before it is removed from the pan or at the table.