Come to the Table: Week 3- Cheesy Pepper Pasta
YOU GUYS! O. M. G.
It is hard for me to even form the words for this post. This may be one of my all-time most favorite recipes I have ever shared before. When I say that Cheesy Pepper Pasta has been life changing and a total game changer....I am not exaggerating. Not. One. Bit.
First off, you can do no wrong with cheese and carbs. That's obvious. But when I discovered how fast this meal is and how insanely delicious it turns outs to be, we entered into a new level of food obsession.
Have you ever heard of Cacio e Pepe? Well, I sure hadn't until Ali from Gimme Some Oven posted an Instagram Story (which is still linked in her highlights and I highly recommend you go watch it) of how she and her husband make it. I was initially super intrigued by how easy and quick it seemed that I made it the next night. There are a few key steps and through watching her story, reading her version of the recipe and testing it out probably close to 15 times now I have figured out what works best for me.
Cacio e Pepe translates to "cheese and pepper" so it's clearly obvious why Justin and I gave it a very sophisticated name of Cheesy Pepper Pasta. Plus I have trouble really channeling my inner Giada and pronouncing it correctly. This reminds me so much of alfredo BUT a lighter, easier and more grown-up version. You really only need 4 ingredients:
- Pasta- spaghetti noodles (really any pasta shape will work. I am 100% convinced that Bowtie pasta is the best out there but I have just used whole wheat spaghetti to keep within the Italian tradition. Do my favorite cooking philosophy....use what you have.)
- Pepper & Salt
Other add-ins are optional. Today I added in arugula for some green color and an additional pepper flavor. I have added spinach, peas, chicken....whatever you want to throw in at the end is great. Honestly, though, it doesn't need anything but this. I don't even make a side salad or extra veggie with this most of the time
Justin and I are pretty much in carb heaven scarfing it down like we have never eaten before.
This takes less than 10 minutes to make and best eaten right away. So if you're making it for guests, put out drinks and an app and wait to start cooking until you're pretty much ready to eat. They will be so impressed with a fresh, hot pasta dish served to them. 🙂
A major key to this dish when cooking the noodles and generously salt the water. That is key for any pasta, but I add in a smidge more salt then normal and a little less water in the pot. We are going to be using this stratchy pasta water for the sauce and that flavor is crucial.
While your pasta is cooking, in a large deep skillet add in your butter and slowly melt over medium to medium-low heat. Once melted add in a lot of pepper. Fresh cracked too, please. And when I say a lot, I mean more than you think is necessary. I mean it is cheesy pepper pasta after all.
Now, this is where I have had some problems that I haven't quite mastered yet. If you watch Ali's story you will see how she prevents the parmesan cheese from clumping up and making a silky smooth sauce. I have not been able to master that yet (and it is quite frustrating if I may add). I have tried adding the freshly grated parm now and then at the end and have gotten the same results. I will keep trying and keep you posted. But for now, honestly, it tastes so stinking good that I don't mind a clump or 2 of parm every now and then 😉
At this point, I add in about a laddles worth of pasta water and whisk together with the butter and pepper. Then with a slotted spoon, I move the noodles from the water to the skillet. Save that water too, we are not finished.
With tongs begin to gently toss the pasta in the butter mixture and slowly begin to add in the parmesan cheese. Keep tossing and adding the cheese until it is all combined. I usually add in 2-4 more spoonfuls of water as I am tossing to help keep things saucy and not too dry. Taste test and add more pepper, salt, and pasta water if needed. If you are adding arugula or any other add-ins this is the point where you will add them and toss to combine. This sauce should be light and silky smooth.
*Note: the actual recipe is written adding the parmesan before the noodles. I gave you both versions to try*
That is it! Serve right away alongside a glass of red wine and sit around the table together. This is best served on a Friday or Saturday night after a long week. There is nothing better than a warm carby, cheesy, satisfying all the cravings dish that will have your jaw on the floor of how good it is. Cheesy Pepper Pasta is a perfect date night meal to make your loved one or a super easy dish to make guests for a dinner party.
I know you will literally be as obsessed with this dish as we are, it is our most favorite meal right now and a perfect addition to the Come to the Table series!Print