Cacio e pepe is the perfect marriage of Romano cheese, crushed black pepper and chitarra pasta. (Tulalip Resort Casino)

Cacio e pepe is the perfect marriage of Romano cheese, crushed black pepper and chitarra pasta. (Tulalip Resort Casino)

Celebrate National Pasta Month with fast and easy cacio e pepe

The dish, which translates to “cheese and pepper,” is an upscale Italian version of macaroni and cheese.

  • Tuesday, October 19, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Did you know that October is National Pasta Month? For that reason, I am sharing a luscious and decadent (yet simple) pasta dish with you to celebrate! Think of this dish as an upscale Italian macaroni and cheese. Yum!

Cacio e Pepe translates to “cheese and pepper,” and this is the perfect marriage of Romano cheese, crushed black pepper and pasta. To me, this dish is the epitome of what Italian cooking is all about — simplicity!

But this one’s just for you, because I wanted you to try this recipe without requiring you prepare this dish in an old-school manner. The traditional, and more dramatic approach requires cutting your own fresh spaghetti alla chitarra pasta and tossing it in a 70-pound half round wheel of torched cheese. If you prefer that approach, then by all means, go for it.

Here’s the fast-and-easy version to prepare at home with only seven ingredients. The Pecorino Romano cheese delivers a potent flavorful punch that rivals the coarse black pepper, and the resulting richness will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Though we’re celebrating pasta this month, this dish may become a go-to favorite in your home to be enjoyed throughout the year.

Fast and easy cacio e pepe

This dish is traditionally prepared with fresh chitarra pasta. You can make it fresh at home — or don’t hesitate to use any long noodle pasta for this dish, fresh or dry. A great substitute is the long tube type pasta called bucatini, or you can also try linguine, available in most grocers’ pasta aisles.

1 pound egg noodle pasta, fresh or dry

⅓ cup salt

1 quart heavy cream

3 cups finely shredded Pecorino Romano (can substitute any Romano-type cheese), plus ½ cup for garnish

4 teaspoons crushed or course ground black or red peppercorns

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup unsalted butter

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add salt. Drop in 1 pound of fresh or dry pasta and cook until it is al dente.

While cooking the pasta, combine the heavy cream, Pecorino Romano, crushed pepper, olive oil and butter in a separate sauce pot. Whisk well while melting the cheese over low heat to make a creamy sauce.

Just prior to serving, combine the hot cheese sauce with the hot steaming pasta.

Garnish each plate with an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of fine grated Pecorino Romano and additional pepper to taste before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Perry Mascitti is the executive chef at Tulalip Resort Casino. Mascitti manages nearly 260 kitchen staff, including chefs, sous chefs and cooks. He’s been at Tulalip since 2007 and has more than 30 years of culinary experience.

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