Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cacio E Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) Pasta

The "Rome" issue of my Saveur Magazine (April 2010) is starting to look a little dog-eared as I continue to work my way through the various Roman recipes within, several of which have been featured on this blog (Bucatini All'Amatriciana, Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, Broccoli Strascinati). Just last week, I assembled one more of them for a weeknight meal: Cacio E Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) Pasta. Of these recipes, this one was probably the easiest (although none of them have been too challenging thus far, the semolina gnocchi still looms out there somewhere on the horizon). Also like my challenges with finding guanciale for the bucatini/spaghetti carbonara, the recipe features a hard-to-find ingredient that I had to eventually compromise on, in this case, a roman cheese called Cacio de Roma (which I'd never heard of and apparently is most readily available via mail order, unless you already happen to reside in Rome). Instead of sending away for this cheese, I simply replaced its mass (3/4 c.) with an equivalent amount of Pecorino Romano, which is more easily found at my local ethnic grocery store (the recipe already calls for 1 c. of Pecorino Romano, so I added a total of 1 3/4 c.). The finished pasta is very basic and has a little bite to it from the copious black pepper that gets toasted in olive oil prior to putting the cooked noodles in the pan. There's no garlic, sauce, or any other seasoning, just a little pasta water Molto Mario-style to thin out the cheese into a sauce that sort of coats the spaghetti. I threw on top a little chopped parsley as garnish and that was about it - I'm still enjoying the leftovers at the time of this posting. Even the progeny consumed a little of it, as long as I rinsed the pepper off the noodles with cold water before serving them (most kinds of spice are anathema to my kids and immediately render a dish useless for all intents and purposes). That bag of unopened semolina flour pokes out of my cabinet almost every time I go in there, so I guess I'll have to give in and make gnocchi soon.....

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