Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick
Cacio e Pepe might sound like an intimidating dish, but I promise you… it’s so simple! The star of the show is pasta water, which helps create a really creamy pasta sauce with a blend of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese. In Rome, Cacio e Pepe is as simple as the pasta and the sauce, but I like to give it some more heft with arugula and pancetta. It turns it into a more “complete” meal, and now this is always a family favorite in my house.
Because it’s such a simple dish and the pasta really shines, it’s fun to use an interesting shape like the Cresto de Gallo above. My other favorites are Nodi Marini or even mezzi rigatoni, but any short pasta will be delicious. Don’t have pancetta? Bacon works great here too, and can even add a lot of interesting smoky flavor to the whole dish.
Giada's Cacio E Pepe With Pancetta And Arugula
- 1 pound creste del gallo pasta or other curved pasta shape
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 pound pancetta diced
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 3 cups packed baby arugula roughly chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta for 8 minutes (or just 2 minutes under the suggested cooking time). Drain well, reserving 1½ cups of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, heat a large straight sided skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook stirring often with a wooden spoon until the pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the pepper and toast, stirring often, until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pan and scrape up all the bits that are sticking to the bottom.
- Add the pasta and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Add another 1/2 cup pasta water and stir to coat all of the pasta in the cheese. Add the pecorino and the butter and stir to combine, creating a light creamy cheese sauce. Add the arugula and cook until wilted. Add additional pasta water as needed to maintain the light sauce consistency. Serve with more grated cheese if desired.