If you are a pasta loved who hasn’t heard of cacio e pepe, then it’s time you drop everything and give this hot pasta dish a taste. Simply translated, cacio e pepe, is spaghetti with pepper, but don’t let the simple description of this pasta dish fool you, cacio e pepe is anything but plain. In fact, it is one of the hottest pasta dishes out there right now, and not just because of its peppery base.
So, What Exactly Is It?
Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Italian dish that blends pepper and cheese together and is served over spaghetti noodles. This traditional, Roman pasta traditionally only uses three ingredients: Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and spaghetti noodles. However, there is a real art to making these three items blend together, and many of the more modern versions of this pasta use even more types of peppers and cheese to create a bolder flavor.
So, why is it so hot right now? If you want to enjoy a traditional pasta dish that has flavor, without the taste of marinara or heavy cream—this is the one for you. As chefs continue to perfect the recipe for this incomparable pasta dish, more and more Italian food fanatics are starting to fall in love with the smooth, peppery taste of Cacio e Pepe.
What Makes Cacio e Pepe so Special?
So, what is it that makes this pasta dish so special and that really makes it work? Well, the key is all in the flavor. In fact, as many traditional Italian chefs will tell you, typically, the simpler the pasta dish seems, the more difficult it is to prepare.
The pepper and the cheese used to flavor this dish need to blend to really get the right flavor. This means that your cacio e pepe needs to prepared properly. Here are some keys to the best cacio e pepe possible:
- The best cacio e pepe uses a mixture of different peppers including toasted pepper as well as fresh black pepper. The pepper taste is what makes this pasta dish so unique, and using two types of pepper will create a more dynamic and complex flavor.
- Cacio e peppe also includes a lot of cheese. Since it traditionally uses a hard, older cheese, it can be difficult to achieve a smooth final product. However, the cheese should be created in an entirely separate dish so that it doesn’t clump from the heat of the pasta. When this is done correctly, the cheese will be a light, smooth addition to the dish that blends in perfectly.
- This pasta dish is always topped with a light sprinkle of cheese. Instead of using shredded cheese, grate very fine cheese on top of the pasta that will smoothly blend in with the rest of the dish.
- This pasta should be cooked slowly to create a blended, melted cheese, but should never include milk, heavy cream or other agents to make the cheese seem creamier.
When cacio e pepe is created properly, it delivers a light, cheesy yet peppery flavor that is filling and flavorful without being heavy. This unique taste is what makes this dish so popular, as pasta lovers can get all of the cheese and spice that they want from traditional Italian cuisine without feeling too full or tired.
Next time you are looking to indulge your love of pasta, skip the traditional lasagnas and raviolis and head straight to one of Rome’s most beloved dishes—you may just be surprised by how much you love this hot Italian plate.