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Cacio e Pepe

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Super Fast
  • Vegetarian
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Why we love it:

Perhaps the original mac & cheese, this is a classic Roman pasta. There’s one very important note here - you cannot use pre-grated cheese. It has to be freshly grated from a block because the pre-grated kind has starch to keep it from sticking together in the package and that WON’T dissolve into a smooth sauce in this way. I like using both types of cheese, but you can choose one or the other and use it alone - but 100% Pecorino Romano is the traditional choice!


  • 8 ounces Spaghetti (about ½ a box)
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (divided, plus a few pinches)
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated, optional)
  • 14 cup Pecorino Romano (freshly grated, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper (coarse type, freshly cracked)
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (divided)
  • 1 pound Green Beans
  • 12 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 14 cup Almonds (sliced)

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. PASTA

    Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make it salty, about 1 Tablespoon.
    Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2 minutes before the package instructions call for so pasta will be underdone still. Reserve ¾ cup pasta cooking water in a cup and drain.

  • 2. CHEESE

    Meanwhile, grate the cheese into a small bowl. You can mix the varieties. Grind the black pepper into a separate little bowl.


    Trim the ends of the green beans. Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally with tongs. Add a pinch of salt to taste. When they’re tender and bright green, add the balsamic vinegar and let it sizzle a bit. Turn off the heat and fold in the almonds.


    Once the pasta is drained, return the pot to the stove. Melt the remaining butter (2 Tablespoons) and add the cracked pepper. Let the black pepper toast for about 1 minute. Add the reserved pasta water and the cheese (all of it or, reserve a few teaspoons for garnish); whisk. Add the pasta back in and let the water come back to a full boil. Use tongs to carefully toss the pasta over and over again as the sauce thickens. When the pasta is al dente and the sauce coats the noodles, it’s done!

  • 5. SERVING

    Serve pasta immediately with green beans on the side. Add a slice of bread if you like.

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    use GF pasta but consider adding an extra Tablespoon of butter or even better, a Tablespoon of heavy cream or mascarpone cheese. The gluten from the regular pasta adds to the texture of the sauce so you will want to make up for that
    pecorino is sheep’s cheese so use only that and omit the butter
    omit almonds
    use 100% pecorino or 100% parmesan if easier; or any blend of the two, just make it freshly grated
    eriously it won’t work! You’ll be disappointed. If you must go there, you need to add cream, heat 1 cup of cream low and slow in a small pot and stir the cheeses into it. It still could clump a bit but the cream will help, pour this over the cooked pasta and add pepper

Kid Friendly Version

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Leave pepper out of the dish until the very end so you can separate the kids portion
  • Serve green beans without almonds, or just place a few on the side
  • Parmesan is more mild than pecorino so use more of it

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

Grate the cheese if needed

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