There is a dish I’ve been making for my family for as long as I can remember. The dish is not the fancy sort which one might use to show off keen culinary skills to friends, but it’s simple and inexpensive. I never knew this was some authentic Italian dish until I read about it on the internet recently.
A person really can’t go wrong with pasta; pretty much everyone has some pasta dish they like. Being that I was always working with a restricted budget, this particular pasta dish became a staple in our home. It’s a 4 ingredient dish which takes about 20 minutes or less to prepare. We always just called it pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, but I learned it has a proper name: Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with cheese and pepper).
You will need:
Pasta-about 8 oz. for 2 servings
Butter-about 2 TBS. for 2 servings
Pepper –to taste
Parmesan cheese-about ¼ cup + a little or a lot to top with
(I’m no chef, so bear with my less than chef-ly instructions.)
In a large pot, bring salted water to boil.
– Make sure to generously salt your water. It’s really the only time you can give your pasta any flavor so it isn’t bland in contrast to the sauce. I also like to add a few drops of olive oil to keep the pasta from clumping.
Measure out your pasta.
– I use regular spaghetti, and two servings require about 8 ounces of pasta. I measure the spaghetti with the rule that 8 ounces is a bunch a little larger than a quarter, but slightly smaller than a half-dollar. If you’re cooking for more than two, just add more pasta using that measure as a guide.
Drop pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente (slightly soft but still firm).
– As your pasta cooks, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan large enough to hold the pasta. (If you have cooked more than two servings, add more butter.) After the butter is melted (not browned), stir in pepper to taste and freshly grated parmesan cheese to melt the cheese. (If you do not have fresh parmesan, you may use the stuff in the jar, but the results will not be quite as creamy.)
Drain all but about half a cup of water from the cooked pasta, and add pasta directly to the skillet and stir in with the butter mixture. (The pasta water helps make the mixture become thick and creamy.) Let this reduce just a few minutes, probably less than 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Top with a bit more freshly ground pepper and parmesan cheese to taste. I would recommend not salting the cooked pasta or the sauce. Parmesan cheese is already salty enough, and you salted your pasta. Adding more salt can easily make this dish inedible.
I like to serve this dish with cheesy garlic toast and a salad.
As I stated, I am no chef, but this only goes to prove that you don’t have to be a chef, or spend a lot of time and money, to have a great meal.
Tammie Niewedde shares her life with 24, 21, and 16 year old sons. She also has a 2 year old grandson whose energy level reminds her exactly how old she is (40, and she owns that proudly!). In her home, you will find a 120 pound fur factory named Dexter and a few cats whom have decided that she is merely their staff. The root of her love for books, writing, and animals comes from being a child whose only siblings were books and her animals. She is a full-time student, mother, coordinator of all that is chaos, and a hopeless list maker. Most of her writing is creative non-fiction that describes her real life adventures. Her acerbic, biting sense of humor may capture your heart, or it may induce rage. Nonetheless what she writes is true to life. You can often find her hanging out with the kiddos, studying, reading, writing, and making lists…of everything! You can find her on Facebook!