Many things about me have changed over the years that I’ve been writing this blog. My interest in wearing high heels, for example. My waist size. My willingness to stay awake past the hour of 9PM.
One thing that has never, ever, ever changed – the tenet to which I have held steadfast, in vocal and furious opposition to any and all attempts to sway me:
I do not like pepper.
I do not like pepper on things. I do not like pepper in things. If a fleck of pepper has touched even the tiniest corner of my food, I will taste it, and I will hate it.
So why am I now making, and posting, a recipe that translates to “Spaghetti with Pepper?”
Because, my friends, I am an enigma wrapped in a mystery with a little WTF sprinkled on top. And that’s the way I like it.
I came across the recipe for cacio con pepe on SmittenKitten’s Instagram feed, and only paused in my scrolling because, you know, pasta. Then I saw the pepper thing, and almost jumped ship. But it still looked so weirdly delicious, and I have a major soft spot for dishes with very few, very simple, but very high quality ingredients – it seems like whoever came up with them must have known what they were doing.
And with cacio e pepe, it turns out that they did.
CACIO E PEPE
What You Need:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
What You Do:
- Cook spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. Drain spaghetti, 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 spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water. (It will splatter precariously. Be forewarned.)
- Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt to taste.
- Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind or two of black pepper. Seethe in resentment at the fact that you have to now admit that okay, maybe just this once you were wrong.