This simple little Italian number is literally translated ‘cheese and pepper.’ And it couldn’t be easier!
I must warn you, folks–it is spicy. Black pepper-style spicy. I hope your tongues can handle it, but if not, click on over to my Penne Rosa for a milder but equally delicious experience.
I already know this is a great dish to make when my husband is out of town, because it’s freshly made with minimal ingredients and minimal effort. And when he’s not around, well, let’s just say I’m reluctant to make much of an effort in the kitchen. Just the thought of turning on the stove makes me feel downright lazy. So let it be known I will turn to this!
The original recipe was hitting my personal saltiness limit, so I downed the amount of salt–but taste it and add more salt if your taste buds demand it.
1 lb thin spaghetti noodles
1 c reserved pasta water
1 c grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2 TBS butter
First, let’s examine and rejoice in the simplicity of the ingredient list. Such a humble looking group! But destined for greatness nonetheless.
Boil the pasta in salted water (salted = important!) until al dente.
While it’s doing it’s thang, bash up the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.
If you don’t have one, put the peppercorns in a closed ziploc bag and go at ’em with a rolling pin. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, say I.
Now let’s grate up a hefty pile of Pecorino Romano. I used to cut the skin off my finger with my regular grater and bleed all over my ingredients until Santa rewarded my year of goodness (hah!) with a microplane zester. The grated cheese was practically leaping off the block. This thing is a contraption of genius.
How I love it.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain the noodles.
In the same (now empty) pot, add the pasta water and 2 TBS of butter.
Over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the pasta back in.
Toss to coat it in the sauce. Now add half the cheese (ouch–can someone say ‘overexposed’?) . . .
. . . half the pepper . . .
. . . and all the salt.
Mix that good stuff around.
Serve into bowls, and top each one with the remaining cheese and pepper.
Great job! You just made an Italian original.
I must say–it would be so easy and SO fantastic to add some veggies to this. Some freshly chopped Roma tomatoes. Some sauteed zucchini. Some diced artichoke hearts. Or even some protein–shrimp! Chopped up grilled chicken! Grilled salmon! This dish can be your canvas for a limitless array of ingredients. Take hold of the power as the kitchen artiste!
Make it today. Or tomorrow! Or never! I love you regardless!
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