Everyone’s an expert when it comes to this sublime amalgam of pasta, cheese, and black pepper. Some cooks prefer to simply toss hot pasta with Pecorino Romano in the age-old way. Others like to create a creamy pan sauce, relying primarily on Grana Padano, which, unlike Pecorino, melts beautifully. We’re in the latter camp (and we up the ante by adding the brightness of lemon), but that means technique is all-important.
Adding toasted whole-wheat breadcrumbs gives this dish a nice crunch that balances out the creaminess of the sauce. Rather than baking the shells with the crumbs on top (which can make them soggy), toast the breadcrumbs separately, and toss a handful over each serving right before you put it on the table.
Sauteed spinach gives this classic basil pesto a wintery feel. Hazelnuts bring out the basil's sweet side, and freshly grated Pecorino adds a savory tang that Parmesan can't match. This blend will wake up any sleepy omelet.
This recipe is adapted from Sarah Copeland's forthcoming book, "Feast" (Chronicle Books).The deep savoriness of tuscan kale, a backyard-garden staple in northern Italy, makes a superb foundation for soups, sides, and vegetarian mains. In this deceptively simple dish (the onions are essentially quick-pickled right in the pan), the orecchiette is practically treated as a condiment. As soon as you sit at the table, stir a few slices of semisoft goat cheese into the hot greens and pasta until they soften. You'll think to yourself, I could live on this stuff.
Cacio e pepe is practically synonymous with Pecorino Romano -- but Pecorino clumps when cooked. Add it at the end, instead, which also makes the most of its sharp flavor. Lemon adds spunk -- that is, acidity and freshness.