Cacio + Pepe Pasta

You probably already know that one of my favorite pastas of all time is Martelli.   It has a toothy texture that you can only get when you make it in the traditional way- extruded by bronze dies and letting the pasta dry naturally in plein air.

Many, many years ago I visited the family, toured their factory and sat down to lunch with the family {all 12 of them from 3 generations!} Everytime I eat Martelli pasta, I think of the family and the meal I shared with them around the table. Although I can't remember what I ate {besides pasta, of course!} I do remember there was lots of laughter and good cheer. No doubt with all of their success, things at the Martelli factory have changed since the days I was there, but the quality of their pasta has not.

This recipe requires a really good dried pasta and showcases Martelli pasta best.  With only a few ingredients in the recipe, it's essential that everything you use is the best: the best cheese, freshly ground coarse black pepper, and a nice fruity + peppery extra virgin olive oil.

Cacio e Pepe = cheese + pepper.

Originating in Rome, this recipe traditionally uses the cheese of the region, pecorino romano, a sheep's milk cheese.  I've adapted the original recipe because  I don't always have pecorino romano in my fridge and I typically make this dish as a last minute dinner when grocery shopping gets left off my daily to-do list.  Parmigiano Reggiano is my cheese of choice.  I wouldn't dare tell an Italian I've made this change, so let's just  keep it between us.


 Remember not to skimp on the quality of ingredients here. It's a simple, inexpensive dish anyway, so you can afford to indulge. 

1 lb. Spaghetti Pasta 
¼ cup  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper {I use a spice grinder to get the perfect texture}.

In 4 quarts boiling salted water,  cook pasta until al dente. Drain {don't rinse!}.   In large bowl, add the olive oil, cheese and pepper. Add the hot pasta and toss until the pasta is well coated.  Season to taste.
Top with more cheese. 

*OPTIONAL ADDITION from my cookbook La Bella Vita :
Top with ½ cup toasted coarsely ground bread crumbs sauteed in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. 

Buon appetito!
copyright 2010 Alisa Barry


The Italian Dish said...

Every time we are in Rome, we must have this dish. I make it at home but, of course, it's never quite as good as eating it in Rome!

Alisa Barry said...

So true! Andiamo......

Beatrice said...

grazie Alisa. great recipe. i posted it on our facebook page, also. here
it is my favorite pasta and recipe, too. brava.

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