Recipe: Cacio e pepe


Cacio e pepe, this heavenly dish consisting only of pasta, pecorino and black pepper (and a little cooking water from the pasta) has always seemed so daunting to make. I have enjoyed it cooked to perfection in Rome (it’s a Roman dish) but I never thought I could recreate it at home. But then I read Felicity Cloake’s article about the perfect cacio e pepe and decided to have a go as she made it seem so easy. And it turns out, with her guidance, it actually was!

The receipt is perfect. I didn’t change a thing and it worked perfectly the first time. If you’re a cacio e pepe novice like I was I highly recommend reading the article beforehand just to understand the elements of the dish better. And I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the ingredients are; buy some good dried pasta (I love de Cecco) and some really nice pecorino ( I got mine from Natoora) and your finished dish will be just as nice as the one you had in Rome on your holiday.


Cacio e pepe, serves 2

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s recipe.

2 tsp black peppercorns

200 g spaghetti 

80 g pecorino romano, at room temperature, finely grated 

Toast the peppercorns in a very hot, dry pan then roughly crush with a pestle and mortar.

Bring a wide shallow pan of well-salted water to the boil, then add the pasta; it should be covered but not by much. Stir occasionally during cooking and, five minutes into the cooking time, scoop out 250 ml water into a wide bowl to allow it to cool slightly.

Drain the pasta and leave it to cool for a minute. Meanwhile, put the cheese and most of the pepper in a large, heavy bowl or pan and beat in some of the pasta water very gradually to make first a paste, and then a sauce the consistency of bechamel. Add the pasta and toss furiously while adding enough of the water to make a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti.

Divide between warm bowls, sprinkle over a little more pepper, and serve immediately.


Another lunch in Rome


My last day (of two) in Rome started with hardcore sightseeing of The Colosseum and Foro Romano, and I also had time to visit Crypta Balbi before my lunch reservation at Ditirambo near Campo de Fiori.

I don’t know how I heard about the restaurant, but it seemed like one of the better restaurants in the area I knew I’d be in for lunch, so I booked a table. And I’m glad I did; it was just as full for lunch as Armando al Pantheon (even though the restaurant had twice the amount of tables).


I chose a trio of starters as I couldn’t make my mind up on what to have, but two of the dishes were rather disappointing. The ricotta filled deep-fried courgette flower was rather soggy and didn’t taste of much and the steak tartar with truffle was also under-seasoned. The slices of smoked duck with melon and nuts was wonderful though. I wished I got a larger plate of that.


I inly had the starter and a pasta as I’d had so much (too much!) to eat the previous day. I actually asked for a half portion of cacio e pepe, a wonderful Roman pasta dish with pecorino and black pepper. And it was absolutely gorgeous! A glass of wine with my meal and an espresso afterwards and I was ready to take on my last afternoon in Rome.

Ditirambo, Piazza della Cancelleria, 74-75, 00186 Roma, Italy