Sounds intimidating, right? Spaghetti cacio e pepe is just a fancy way of saying pasta with cheese and pepper. Despite its elaborate name, this traditional Roman dish is incredibly simple and straightforward. It’s basically an effortless Italian mac and cheese with tons of freshly ground pepper tossed in. Capeesh? While cleaning the other day, I came across our Italian travel guide books. I immediately started reminiscing about our trip through Italy a few months ago (you can see some of my pics here). And when I say that I reminisced about our trip, what I really mean is that I reminisced about our meals there.
To prep for our vacation, I taught myself only the most important words in Italian, such as vino, birra, polpo, and tartufi. Anytime I came across the word tartufi, meaning truffles, my mind was automatically made up and there was no need to decipher the menu any further. I saw it as my duty to consume as many truffles as possible while in the land of truffles – it would be silly not to. When in Rome, right? So, when I recently visited my favorite Italian gourmet food shop and discovered that they had just received a shipment of summer truffles from Umbria, I closed my eyes, forked over my credit card, and returned home with one fabulous truffle. I named him Little Blackie (mainly because we just watched True Grit and I loved that damned horse).
I wish I could tell you that I feasted on truffles while wearing an evening gown and dozens of strands of pearls, but in actuality, I enjoyed my lone truffle shaved over spaghetti cacio e pepe while in sweats and my ratty college T-shirt. I liked the idea of adding a luxurious and elusive ingredient to such a simple and rustic dish. Plus, the texture of the truffle plays well with the coarse pepper grounds. Anytime I find myself missing Italy again, I will definitely make spaghetti cacio e pepe – whether or not Little Blackie will be invited on our trip down memory lane will be up to my wallet.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe con Tartufi
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Fresh black truffle
This recipe is barely groundbreaking and I even think it is silly to call it a recipe at all. Just be sure to keep things simple and use the freshest ingredients possible. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions. Before draining, reserve a ladle of the cooking water. Toss the drained pasta with some olive oil, cooking water, freshly ground pepper, and grated Pecorino Romano. Top with freshly shaved black truffle and enjoy!