This basic recipe came from SmittenKitchen by way of my sister, Doodles. She thought this dish would taste wonderful in my new pasta bowls. She was right it was tasty but made too much for just the two of us. I had half the dish leftover (more about the leftovers later.)
This is a pretty simple pasta dish but does, in my opinion, require a very good cheese and since I was ready to splurge I picked up some Parmesano Reggiano at Whole Paycheck. Seventeen bucks a pound but since there is nothing else in this recipe to mask the flavor of the cheese so go for the best.
Also grind your own pepper. It calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons but I used more. I love pepper and for this dish I used smoked peppercorns. Giving it a lightly smoked flavor. Your call. I also used penne instead of spaghetti.
What's great about this recipe is it's a start to as many variations as you can think of and I tried a bit of a twist with the leftovers. Here's what I did:
Fry one slice of bacon crisp and removed from pan, chop finely and set aside. To the pan add half cup finely diced leftover tri-tip steak. Fry gently in the bacon fat and add the leftover pasta. If it's dry add water a few tablespoons at a time. Toss with tongs and remove to bowls. Top with the reserved bacon and more cheese. A little chopped parsley couldn't hurt, now could it?
There ya go, a simple pasta two different ways. This is a recipe I'll keep and use again because I love quick and easy meals for nights when I just don't want to cook. As long as you keep your pantry stocked with the basics you're home free.
Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper [Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe]
Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a first course
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
Cook spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.) 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 and jump back, this will splatter mightily, also known as “I made this three times, and never once learned my lesson. Do as I say, not as I do.”
Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt (which should not be necessary, as Romano is very salty) to taste.
Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind or two of black pepper.