I think all people should have a really simple pasta recipe in their back pocket – one that can be made with kitchen staples. That way, no matter how late you get home, no matter how long it has been since you’ve been to the supermarket, you know you can always whip up a delicious dinner. The recipe below is just that recipe – and it’s vegetarian too.
Cacio e pepe is what this pasta is called in Italian (literally “cheese and pepper”) and it is a classic dish that has been a late-night favorite of Italians forever. It’s an amazing dish that is like both an elevated and super-simplified version of mac 'n cheese at the very same time.
Black Pepper and Parmesan Vegetarian Spaghetti
4 to 6
16 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions and drained, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet or a stockpot (you can use the pot you used to cook the pasta) over medium heat until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is warm.
Add freshly ground pepper to the butter and oil mixture to taste. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to coat well.
Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again to mix, adding the reserved pasta cooking water, a little at a time, if needed to achieve desired sauce consistency. Taste and add salt as needed.
Serve hot, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese and freshly grated pepper.