Main Course/ Pasta/ Vegetarian

“Pici Cacio e Pepe” – Tuscan Pasta with Creamy Cheese and Black Pepper Sauce

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta
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Cacio e Pepe is one of the most representative dishes of Italian food, along with Carbonara and Lasagne. What they all have in common is that they only need 3 ingredients. Yes, only 3. But the most important thing that they have in common is that you need to do them just right. Follow the instructions and use the right ingredients, otherwise you end up with a completely different dish or a hot mess. 

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

I will talk more about Lasagne and Carbonara when I’ll post the recipes, for now let’s just talk about Cacio e Pepe.

About the Pecorino cheese

The name literally means cheese and pepper, which already indicates that there’s nothing more you need. Cacio e Pepe is a traditional dish from Lazio region, specifically the beautiful ancient city of Rome. For this reason, the main ingredient is Pecorino Romano, a sheep milk cheese made in this same region for centuries (but thankfully available worldwide nowadays). Pecorino is a salty cheese and it’s very hard and crumbly so it’s perfect to grate on top of pasta dishes. 

I like to use only Pecorino cheese but if you prefer you can use 2/3 Pecorino cheese and 1/3 Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta


About the Pasta

Pici are a traditional pasta from Tuscany, where I was born and raised. They are thick like Udon noodles but made with semolina, flour and water just like other pasta shapes. If you double the recipe, making it for 4 people, I suggest adding 1 egg yolk to the pasta dough, to make it stretchier. 

Pici Cacio e Pepe is very common is Tuscany and it’s one of my favorite dish. Pici are so thick and rustic and coated with the delicious creamy cheese are just heavenly. Another great traditional Tuscan recipe with Pici pasta is Pici all’Aglione, a spicy garlic tomato sauce.

The traditional Roman recipe, however, is made with Tonnarelli pasta. Tonnarelli have a thickness halfway between Pici and Spaghetti. Although, the most common practice around Italy is to make Cacio e Pepe simply with Spaghetti pasta, but the thicker the better!

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

How to make authentic Cacio e Pepe

This dish is apparently very easy to make. The only ingredients are cheese, black pepper and pasta, what can go wrong? Actually many things can go wrong.

One of the biggest mistake people do (and with people I include myself as well) is to keep the pan on the heat after you added the cheese to the pasta. If you cook the cheese, it will separate so you’ll end up with watery pasta and a thick cheese paste glued to the pan.

Another consideration to make is about the salt. Pecorino cheese is quite salty so make sure you taste it and regulate the saltness of the pasta water accordingly. Or regulate the cheese intensity by mixing in Parmigiano cheese which is less salty.

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

The Recipe

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta
5 from 12 votes
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Pici Cacio e Pepe

Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 85 g 3 oz All Purpose Flour
  • 85 g 3 oz Semolina Flour
  • 40 g 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese grated
  • Black Pepper ground
  • Pink Peppercorns optional
  • EV Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the two flours in a large bowl and drizzle a little bit of olive oil. Slowly add some water and start mixing with your hands, adding more water a little bit at a time until the dough starts coming together. After a few minutes of kneading, you should have a round soft ball, which is not crumbly nor sticky.
  2. Cover the dough ball in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.
  3. To make the Pici, roll the pasta dough and cut it into strips, then roll them with both your hands on the cutting board to get the thick pasta strings. Try to keep the same thickness on the whole lenght, to cook it uniformly.
  4. In a large bowl, grate the Pecorino cheese and add the ground black pepper to taste (it should be quite a lot but not too much) and set aside.
  5. Toss the Pici in a large pot of boiling salted water.
  6. Slowly add half ladle of pasta water to the cheese while whisking energetically and add more water gradually if necessary until you get a smooth cream.
  7. After 3-4 minutes, drain the pasta and add it to the bowl of cheese sauce. Mix well and serve immediately with freshly grated cheese and crushed pink peppercorns if you like.



 

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

Pici Cacio e Pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

 

 
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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Kelly Anthony
    October 23, 2018 at 10:18 am

    This recipe gets ALLLL the yes’s! Simple and delicious!

  • Reply
    Aleta
    October 23, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    A pasta that doesn’t require a pasta maker? How exciting! I love pecorino cheese, I can see it being absolutely delicious in this pasta dish. Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Reply
    Analida Braeger
    October 24, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    My daughter has been begging me to make pasta. I put it off because of the labor-intensive process. Now we have a great option for making it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica - Cooking my Dreams
      Reply
      Jessica - Cooking my Dreams
      October 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks Analida! It still takes some time to make but it can also be fun if you make pasta together with your daughter! 🙂

  • Reply
    Emily Leary
    October 25, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Oh my goodness. Pasta is my all time favourite and this dish sounds fantastic! I love the fact that a pasta machine is unnecessary too. Thank you – I’m going to try this for sure!

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    October 25, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    I love simple easy and quick recipe. My kids love making pasta with me at home. I must try this, looks so simple. I’m saving this for later

  • Reply
    Jyothi (Jo)
    October 28, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Like anything else homemade is always the best. What a lovely perfect homemade pasta that is. Nothing beats this. I’m sure this tastes out of the world

  • Reply
    Daniela
    October 28, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    This cacio e pepe looks so creamy and comforting! I bet it tastes amazing as well! Great recipe!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    October 28, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    This pasta looks divine! I love that you don’t need a pasta maker to make the Pici, I’m definitely making this! Great recipe x

  • Reply
    Jagruti Dhanecha
    October 28, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Amazing..you have prepared pasta without a pasta maker, it just looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing a lovely and simple recipe.

  • Reply
    Jenni LeBaron
    October 29, 2018 at 3:36 am

    I love that you don’t need a pasta maker to make this gorgeous looking pasta. This looks creamy and decadent and just perfect!

  • Reply
    Holly
    October 29, 2018 at 5:20 am

    I’ve never made my own pasta but you make it look so easy and delicious – I have to try it!

  • Reply
    Michele
    October 29, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    This definitely looks like the pasta of my dreams! It looks seriously rich, decadent and delicious. All that cheese is calling my name! My family would love this for sure. We have pasta at least twice a week and this recipe is going on the list. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
    October 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Simple Italian recipes like this are SO delicious! Cacio e pepe is one of the favorites of my Italian in-laws. The homemade pasta really puts it over the top here – it looks like a perfect Sunday dinner to me!

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