Cacio e Pepe with Arugula and Lemon.
SO. Someone on Instagram left a comment asking me why I use lemons in all my recipes. My response? I really enjoy lemons (plus they are really good for you). Why else would I use them, you know?
Okay, but in all seriousness, this comment wasn’t said in a nice way, and I obviously do not use lemons in ALL of my recipes. Maybe a good amount of them, but let’s just be real, you guys know I like to switch things up! But hey, it’s spring, and I’m in a lemony kind of mood, so I’m going with it, and loving every bite. Plus, I feel as though I’m not alone in my love of lemony things. Pretty confident that like me, a lot you guys enjoy a touch of lemon flavor too.
And guys, if you do hate lemons, there is a simple fix, just leave the lemon out. Problem solved.
I am pretty excited to share this very easy pasta recipe with you guys today! I’ve hesitated making Cacio e Pepe for so long for the sole reason that it’s truly so simple and so easy that I didn’t feel I needed to tell you guys about it.
But then something happened. I made this recipe for my friends over at The Chriselle Factor and I immediately fell in love with it. Of course, me being me, I added an extra ingredient or two, to add in that extra touch of flavor and give the recipe my own personal flare. But all in all, it’s very similar to the classic pasta eaten all around Italy. And of course, it’s delicious, easy, and quick.
A little background. Cacio e Pepe literally means cheese and pepper. It’s like mac and cheese, but simpler and quite possibly better. When looking at the recipe you might think it seems a bit basic, that’s because it is basic. BUT with good pasta, a little butter, fresh black pepper, and really good cheese, it’s also basic(ally) perfect.
You see what I did there? Basic…ally?
Yeah, in my head it works…just go with it.
The key to this recipe is the pasta cooking water. You simply cannot make this without that pasta water, as it’s the water that creates that creamy and luscious sauce. This also means there is zero cream in this pasta recipe, which I dunno, kind of makes it health…ish, right? There are greens too. And lemon! So yes, yes, healthy…ish. Again, just go with it.
SO, here is how this works. You ready? It’s simple.
Boil a large pot of water, add the pasta and cook. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and drain. Heat the butter in a skillet with pepper, add in the pasta water and the pasta. Sprinkle all that cheese in, and toss, toss, toss. Remove from heat, add a couple handfuls of arugula and basil, and divide the pasta between plates. Finish with lemon, plus a dusting more of parmesan cheese.
It’s not often that I make such simple recipes like this pasta, but I do believe that everyone needs a recipe like this Cacio e Pepe in their back pocket. It’s made from pantry staple ingredients, takes maybe fifteen to twenty minutes to make, and is really delicious. Meaning it’s perfect for those nights when you have nothing in your fridge, or a night when all you feel like doing is eating pasta and binge watching Netflix, or even a night when a surprise guest shows up and you need to come up with a tasty meal to satisfy everyone…fast.
This is that magical pasta that will save the day.
And again, the addition of those leafy baby arugula greens and lemon zest totally make this a very “well-balanced” meal. Don’t you guys just love my way of rationalizing things? My mind works in surprisingly great ways…sometimes.
Enter that wink, wink emoji here.
Watch the How To Video Here:
Cacio e Pepe with Arugula and Lemon
Servings: 6 servings
Calories Per Serving: 295 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 1 pound bucatini pasta
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh grated pecorino cheese
- couple handfuls baby arugula
- fresh basil and lemon zest, for serving
View Recipe Comments
- 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain. 2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and cook 30 second to 1 minute, until toasted.3. Add the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pasta and remaining butter. Reduce the heat to low and add the parmesan and pecorino, tossing until melted. Remove from the heat, add the arugula, toss until the greens are wilted and the sauce coats the pasta, adding in more pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. Transfer to a bowl and serve topped with fresh basil and lemon zest. Enjoy!
Thursday night + pasta + chill time = my kind of night. I’m excited, what are you guys doing?!
I made this last night and it’s AMAZING! Creamy, spicy and so flavorful. Quick and easy too. It’s one of my new favorites! Thank you!!!
Happy Monday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xT
Thanks for this recipe! I think, perhaps, others who have commented and added many other things like garlic and tomatoes may not be familiar with the classic cacio e pepe recipe? I think the addition of lemon zest and arugula is perfect, especially since I had a pile of fresh adult, spicy arugula from the farmers market. I will certainly make this again.
Happy Sunday!! I truly appreciate you giving this a try and sharing your feedback, so glad it was enjoyed:) xx
I, too, thought this was an excellent base recipe. I did end up sauteing chopped garlic in the butter before adding the pasta, water and cheese. To finish I added fresh tomatoes and scallions from the garden along with the arugula and basil. I can see so many other possible additions depending on what’s in season. This is a keeper recipe for sure – Thank you
I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for giving it a try and sharing your review:) xxTieghan
hey Sandy (and Tieghan), I did all these same things (1 tomato, 2 cloves garlic, handful of chives instead of scallion) before I read your comment and, yes: perfect base recipe, will totally be doing this again. Thanks!
Awesome, love to hear this! Thanks for sharing Mark:)
Love this recipe!
Thank you so much for trying this recipe, I am thrilled that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan
This is by far my favourite pasta recipe. Simple, fresh and rich. I have made this many times, but your recipe was THE best I have ever tasted. Don’t leave out the arugula or lemon. It’s so delicious! Thank you for all of your amazing recipes!
Happy Friday!! I am so glad to hear this recipe was a winner, thanks for giving it a go:) xTieghan
Loved this so much! Perfect for a night when I don’t have much time to go all out, but tastes like I did. Only thing I might change is less pepper, and possibly add maybe a tad of garlic to the mix. Thanks for sharing this!
Awesome!! Thanks a bunch for trying this recipe out, I love to hear that it was a winner! xTieghan