Asparagus, Peas, and Cucumber "Cacio E Pepe"

Asparagus, Peas, And Cucumber “Cacio E Pepe”
Photo: Linda Pugliese
2 to 1 Serves as light meal

Classic cacio e pepe—pasta swirled in copious amounts of cheese and cracked black pepper—is heavenly, but undeniably heavy. Those bold flavors are airy on blanched peas and “noodles” of thinly sliced cucumbers and broiled asparagus. Drizzle on a quick dressing of lemon juice, grated garlic cloves, and extra-virgin olive oil for a comfort-food update that puts even more spring in your step. This recipe is featured in the cookbook Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession ($26.99,


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup shelled fresh (or frozen) English peas

  • 2 Persian cucumbers, or 1 English cucumber

  • 1 pound asparagus

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 handful arugula

  • Parmesan and pecorino cheeses, for serving


  1. Boil water in a small pot and salt it heavily. Prepare an ice bath with a fine-mesh sieve set over it to contain your peas. Add peas to boiling water and boil until crisp-tender and bright green. Strain and transfer to ice bath. Trim ends off cucumbers and shave into long ribbons using a Y-peeler. Add to ice bath to crisp up.

  2. Preheat broiler, with a rack about 4 inches from heating element. Using Y-peeler, peel asparagus from root end to tip. When you get down to where you can't peel anymore, trim off ends and discard, and transfer peelings to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle asparagus with a bit of oil and season with salt and lots of black pepper. Toss well to coat. Broil until just charred, about 4 minutes.

  3. In a large bowl, combine lemon juice and oil. Grate garlic into mixture. Drain and pat dry cucumbers and add to bowl, along with arugula, broiled asparagus, and peas. Transfer to serving plates or a platter. Grate a fluffy cloud of both cheeses over the top and stir everything together before taking your first bite.

Cook's Notes

To give this dish structure, "fluff up" the shaved vegetable ribbons by scrunching and lifting handfuls as you add them to the plate.

Excerpted from the new book Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession ($26.99, by Jess Damuck, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Jess Damuck. Photography by Linda Pugliese.

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