Cacio e Pepe with Lemon
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.
Martha Stewart Living, February 2013
- Prep Time 15 minutes
- Total Time 25 minutes
- Serves 2
- Coarse salt
- 8 ounces thick spaghetti or bucatini
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, softened
- 3 ounces Grana Padano cheese, grated (1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper (use a mortar and pestle or the coarsest setting on a grinder), plus more for garnish
- 3/4 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
- 1 small lemon (preferably Meyer)
- High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than called for in package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
- Transfer pasta to a 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick). Add butter and 1/2 cup pasta water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. The heat helps the starch in the water meld with the fat from the butter, which prevents the Grana Padano from becoming stringy in the finished dish.
- Reduce heat to low, and mix in Grana Padano and cracked pepper. Grana Padano is softer than Pecorino Romano; it will melt into the buttery water, creating a sauce as the pasta finishes cooking.
- Toss pasta with tongs to thoroughly coat it with sauce. Keep everything at a gentle simmer just until cheese melts and sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat, then stir in Pecorino Romano. (Always add Pecorino off direct heat; it clumps when cooked.) Zest lemon over the pasta. Any type of lemon will do, but a Meyer is particularly nice in this dish: It's sweeter in flavor and aroma, with back notes of orange and lime. At this time of year, you'll find Meyer lemons at specialty-food stores and some supermarkets.
- If pasta looks dry, toss it with a bit more pasta water until it has a glossy coating. Divide between 2 warm bowls. Drizzle each with oil and lemon juice, and garnish with more cracked pepper. Serve immediately.
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