When making this elemental Roman pasta, most people focus on the cheese (cacio), with purists arguing for youngish pecorino Romano. But the peppercorns (pepe) are also essential to this dish, so it's a great time to try a single-origin variety. Boiling down some reserved pasta-cooking water before mixing with the al dente spaghetti concentrates the starch for an even more luscious sauce. Look for a hard grating cheese made without rennet if you want to keep it truly vegetarian.

EatingWell Magazine, May 2021


Credit: Ryan Liebe

Recipe Summary

25 mins
25 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring water to boil in a large pot over high heat. Add salt then pasta, pushing it into the water, if needed, to submerge. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 9 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat canola oil, olive oil and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant.

  • Ladle 1 1/2 cups of the pasta-cooking water into the pan and reserve another 1/4 cup; drain the pasta (do not rinse it).

  • Bring the peppery pasta-cooking water to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced by nearly half, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta. Using tongs, stir and toss to coat the pasta with the liquid. Sprinkle in cheese in 3 additions, tossing quickly to ensure even distribution and melting between each addition. Drizzle the pasta with the reserved 1/4 cup pasta water and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup
322 calories; fat 13g; cholesterol 15mg; sodium 464mg; carbohydrates 43g; dietary fiber 6g; protein 12g; sugars 2g; niacin equivalents 5mg; saturated fat 5g; vitamin a iu 10IU; potassium 271mg.