Pici Cacio e Pepe

If ever there was a bucket list recipe, Pici Cacio e Pepe is it! Creamy cheese and pepper sauce surround hearty homemade Tuscan noodles. So gourmet and yet so simple.

Cacio e Pepe sauce surround homemade Tuscan noodles.

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A serving of Pasta Cacio e Pepe on a grey lined plate sitting on a brown table.

I am not going to lie, 2020 has been a beast of a year and it is only June.

It’s almost scary to see what the second half of the year will have to offer. 

The one thing I know though, that simple pleasures will continue to be the biggest sources of joy and comfort.

I don’t know what I would have done without long heart felt conversations with my husband, sipping on a crisp glass of refreshing Homemade Ice Tea and having date night in the kitchen.

The old expression, “It’s the simple things in life” couldn’t ring more true. 

Ohhhh and this dish is the perfect example of simple pleasures. 

We loved the process of working side by side in the kitchen and were amazed that so few ingredients could make the most luxurious dinner.

Honestly, we love Pici Cacio e Pepe so much that I have officially labeled it as our happy meal of 2020. 

 

Pasta Cacio e Pepe served on a plate with a fork.

Up close photo of Cheese and Pepper Pasta sitting on a brown table with a glass of wine.

What is Pici Cacio e Pepe?

Pici is a hand rolled pasta from the Tuscan region of Italy that looks similar to spaghetti noodles but much thicker. It is a revered pasta to the people of Tuscany. Additionally, Cacio e Pepe literally means cheese and pepper. Needless to say, Cacio e Pepe has satisfying homemade pasta surrounded with a creamy cheese sauce. Incredibly simple ingredients that turn into a 5 star dinner. 

Secrets for Making the Authentic Cacio e Pepe

The end result of authentic Cacio e Pepe is a luxurious cheese and pepper sauce that covers al dente cooked pasta. The process is extremely simply and yet precise. Here are the best tips for producing a sumptuous five star dinner.

  • There are 3 main ingredients for this sauce. Because the cooking process moves so quickly, have both the pepper and cheese prepared and ready to go before cooking the freshly made Pici Pasta. 
  • Use fresh cracked black pepper by either using a pepper mill or mortar and pestle with whole pepper corns. (Note: If using a mortar and pestle, it is much easier to crack the pepper corns using a larger mortar and pestle as shown in the link.)
  • This tool produces finely grated cheese which helps in producing a silkier sauce. 
  • It is very important to follow the steps of cooking in the order listed below. 

Steps In Making Cheese and Pepper Pasta

  1. Form the noodles for Pici Pasta.
  2. Grate cheese and crack black pepper. 
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, salt water.
  4. Add Pici to boiling water.
  5. At about 2-4 mins into cooking the Pici preheat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add cracked pepper and toast until fragrant, about 2 mins.
  6. Once fragrant add 3/4 cup of pasta water to toasted pepper. Reserve 1 additional cup of pasta water. (Note: Using 1 1/2-2 cups of pasta water rather than just 1 cup will produce and even silkier sauce. However, using an additional 1/2 -1 cup of cheese would be advised if using extra pasta water.)
  7. Cook Pici to almost al dente. (Note: The total time will be approximately 2 mins less than the normal cooking time. The final cooking will take place in the frying pan.)
  8. Transfer Pici to frying pan either using this tool or by draining in colander. (Note: If using a colander make sure to reserve water before draining.)
  9. Add cheese and additional water. Raise heat to medium/high. Continue cooking and tossing for a full two minutes. 
  10. Serve, garnish (if desired) and enjoy!

Pecorino vs Parmigiano Reggiano 

We have made this Pici Cacio e Pepe using both Pecorino Romano and parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) and although both turn out delicious, Pecorino Romano is hands down the winner for us. We found the Pecorino Romano to add more flavor and to create a smoother sauce. Regardless of which cheese you choose, buy it in block form and finely grate it to help create a smooth sauce. 

Other Types of Pasta for Cacio e Pepe 

Using homemade Pici Pasta for this Cacio e Pepe is absolutely divine if you have enough time to make it. However, if time is limited here are some additional pasta options for an incredible dining experience.

  • Tagliolini Pasta– Generally thicker than spaghetti noddles and handmade. This particular pasta (see link) is higher in protein than most noodles and many with thyroid and/or bloods sugar challenges were able to eat this without issues. 
  • Tonnarelli Pasta– This is an egg pasta that is also shaped like spaghetti. However, it is thicker and has a square shape. It also tends to have a more rugged surface that allows sauces to cling to the pasta. 
  • Bucatini Pasta– Probably one the most fun pastas to eat, Bucatini is a basically a long tube that is a little thicker than spaghetti. 

More Authentic Italian Recipes

Pici All’Aglione

Napolitana Pizza

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Peposo

Chicken Contadina

Steak Pizzaiola  

Additional Date Night In Recipes

Best Ribeye Steaks

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Easy Broiled Pork Chops

Broiled Scallops

Marinated Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

Panko Crusted Salmon

Strawberry Walnut Salad

Rocket Pear Salad 

A serving of Pasta Cacio e Pepe on a grey lined plate sitting on a brown table.

Pici Cacio e Pepe

This Pici Cacio e Pepe is the perfect date night in meal. Making the homemade Pici Pasta with your honey is very entertaining. Eating it though, with the luxurious cheese and pepper sauce is absolutley divine. It's like eating a 5 star meal at home.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Cacio e Pepe, Pici Cacio e Pepe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 632kcal
Author: Heather

Ingredients

  • 1 batch Pici Pasta
  • 2 tbsp crushed black pepper
  • 3 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 3/4 cup pasta water *3/4 cup added to toasted pepper and 1 cup added at the same time as cheese.

Instructions

  • Hand roll Pici Pasta and set aside.
  • Crush pepper, grate cheese and bring a large pot of water (approximately 5 qts) to a rapid boil. Once boiling add about 3-4 tbps of sea salt.
  • Add Pici to boiling water making sure to lower temperature a few mins in to prevent water from spilling over.
  • At about 2-4 mins into cooking the Pici preheat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add cracked pepper and toast until fragrant, about 2 mins.
  • Once fragrant add 3/4 cup of pasta water to toasted pepper. Reserve 1 additional cup of pasta water.
  • Cook Pici to almost al dente. (Note: The total time will be approximately 2 mins less than the normal cooking time.)
  • Transfer Pici to frying pan.
  • Add cheese and additional water. Raise heat to medium/high. Continue cooking and tossing for a full two minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

*Please use as many organic ingredients as possible. 
Recipe Notes
  • Lower cracked pepper to  1- 1 1/2 tbsp for those with more sensitive tastebuds.
  • Thicker Pici Pasta may take up to 10 mins of boiling and 2 mins of cooking time in the frying pan. 
  • For an extra creamy and silky sauce use an additional 1/2- 1 cup of pasta water (total 2 1/4- 2 3/4 cups) and 1/2 -1 cup finely grated cheese (total 3 1/2- 4 cups).
  • Garnish with freshly grated Pecorino Romano, crushed black pepper or freshly torn basil leaves.
  • Total time does not include the preparation of the homemade Pici Pasta. With 2 people making the pasta, add an additional 20-30 mins of preparation time. 

Nutrition

Calories: 632kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 722mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Calcium: 552mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @thefedupfoodie or tag #thefedupfoodie!

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