Cacio e Pepe with Arugula and Lemon.
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.
Cacio e Pepe with Arugula and Lemon
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta main course, quick meal
Made from pantry staple ingredients, takes 15-20 mins to make, and is really delicious. Meaning this dish perfect for those nights when there's nothing in your fridge, or all you feel like doing is eating pasta + binge watching Netflix, or a surprise guest shows!
- 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
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?!
Our Favorite Recipes
20 Minute Basil Cashew Chicken.