I love macaroni and cheese, but sometimes I just want to make enough for one serving. Or I don't have any milk in the refrigerator. Or I'm starving and and need something that only takes a few minutes to make. Luckily, this recipe for cacio e pepe meets all those requirements!
Italian for "cheese and pepper", this dish comes together in a flash and uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator. Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese used for cacio e pepe, but in a pinch, you could also use parmesan or another hard, grated cheese.
The first time I made this, I used the fresh pasta I had made in the previous post, but I've also since made this with regular dried spaghetti. Obviously, the fresh pasta was better, but the version made with the dried pasta was still pretty decent, and much better than anything that comes out of a blue and orange box. I like mine slightly gooey and with less pepper, but if you like it creamier, you can add more pasta water, and feel free to use as much pepper as you like!
Cacio e Pepe for One serves one (duh) but can be easily doubled
1 serving of uncooked pasta, dried or fresh
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
50 g (about 3/4 cup) freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
Add the butter and pepper to a skillet large enough to hold all the pasta. If using fresh pasta, turn the heat on once you add the pasta to the boiling water. If using dried pasta, wait until there is 1 minute left before the pasta is done to turn on the heat. Toast the pepper over medium-low heat.
When the pasta is done, transfer it to the skillet using tongs or a pasta scooper. Toss with the butter and pepper, then start adding the grated cheese, alternating with some of the pasta water. Continue tossing until the cheese has melted and coated all the pasta. Season to taste with additional pepper and salt.