Victoria's Cacio e Pepe

Roman food certainly is comfort food and this pasta dish is the mac & cheese of Rome.

Victoria's Cacio e Pepe

Roman food certainly is comfort food and this pasta dish, made with pasta, cheese & black pepper, is the mac & cheese of Rome.  Cacio e Pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper.  The ingredients are very simple and are either made with spaghetti, tonnarelli or vermicelli.  I like to make mine with good old reliable spaghetti.


4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

1/4 Cup Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Pound Dried Spaghetti

3/4 Cup Pasta Water

1 Cup Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano

Fill a large size pot with 8 quarts of water and 4 tablespoons kosher salt.  Bring to a boil and add the spaghetti.  Cook until al dente.  Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.  While the spaghetti is cooking you will need to toast the sesame seeds.  Take an extra large sauté pan and turn the heat to medium high.  You will not need to add oil.  Just pour the dry sesame seeds into the heated sauté pan and toast for 1 minute.  Stir constantly and make sure not to burn the sesame seeds.  Remove the sesame seeds from the heat and place in a bowl.  Set aside.  Add the pepper to the same pan and toast for 1 minute and continue to stir.  The pepper should be nice and fragrant.  Add the olive oil and butter to the toasted pepper and cook until the butter has melted.  Remove from the heat.  Add 3/4 cup of the pasta water (this is the water that the spaghetti cooked in) to the pepper mixture.  Add the toasted sesame seeds and then add the pasta.  Stir and toss over a medium heat.  You will want the past to be well coated.  Stir in the grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  If you need more pasta water to loosen the sauce then add a bit more of the pasta water.  Toss once again and then transfer to a serving bowl.  Serve immediately.  Serves 6

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