Fettuccine with cheese and black pepper — Cacio e pepe
This past weekend proved to be a gloriously lovely respite from work. Lots of sun and a soothing breeze on Saturday which was perfect for my good friend Tracey’s wedding. We danced, celebrated, and dined on wedding fare at a beautiful waterfront venue on the Hudson River with a breathtaking view of the Manhatten skyline. I can barely think of a handful of ways in which to have better spent that Saturday!
After feasting on what appeared to be a neverending parade of amazingly delicious and rich foods, by the time I returned home that night, I was looking forward to simple fare for the next few days. Standing in my kitchen Sunday morning, I was hard pressed to muster up any ideas for sustenance that didn’t threaten to send me back into the throes of guilt of utter caloric indulgence from the night before.
Then I remembered seeing a post from Deb about some magical spaghetti dish she had that was so simple, and yet, so tantalizingly delicious in its simplicity and wonder. Spaghetti quickly tossed with a simple sauce of oil, butter, melted cheese, and freshly grated black pepper. It sounded so easy to make and, lo and behold, I just happened to have all of the required ingredients in my pantry! Well, almost all…I’m going through a bad fettuccine phase and thus it was all I had. Making a quick run to the supermarket for a package of spaghetti pasta wasn’t in the cards either…
Deb writes about just letting all of the components come together on their own…to not muss or fuss too much with the ingredients and technique. Just to let the dish come together on its own. I couldn’t agree with her more. Taking a her cue, I just throw it all in the pot and let the magic happen…and boy o boy, was it magical!
The cheese and pepper combination, while simple, work in great concert together and yields a dish that is not only humble but amazingly comforting. It was the perfect way to start our Sunday with our feet up and out of our dancing shoes!
Fettuccini Cacio e Pepe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a first course
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dried fettuccine (or any long shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Cook fettuccine in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. Drain fettuccine, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.
Dry out your pot, then heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add drained fettuccine and 1 cup of reserved pasta water. This may splatter so be careful.
Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt (which should not be neccessary, as Romano is very salty) to taste.
Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind or two of black pepper.