Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” and that’s all you need to make this gloriously simple pasta dish. Yes, pasta. If you have a favorite brand of gluten-free pasta, go for it. If not, “zoodles” work well for this dish, too. What matters most here is not the noodle, it’s the cacio e pepe.
The type of cheese used for this classic Italian dish matters in a big way. It’s not just any cheese, it’s Pecorino Romano, an aged Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. Don’t buy cheese labeled only “Romano,” and don’t buy it pre-grated. What you want is the real deal—a wedge of genuine Italian Pecorino Romano.
Once only made near Rome in the Lazio region of Italy, most Pecorino Romano is now made in Sardinia. Handmade in the ancient tradition, this great cheese is naturally rich in conjugated linoleic acid. In a 2010 trial, Pecorino Romano improved markers of inflammation and atherosclerosis in human subjects compared to a control cheese low in CLA.
A generous amount of grated Pecorino Romano finishes Cacio e Pepe after the (z)noodles are tossed in black pepper and bone broth. You’ll be amazed by how much flavor this dish has with so few ingredients. Easy to make, easy to love.
Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes
12-14 ounces (340 g to 400 g) zoodles (zucchini noodles) or 8 ounces (230 g) gluten-free pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 g)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (15 ml)
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, or more to taste (10 ml)
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (90 g)
If using zoodles, set aside for now. If using gluten-free pasta, then cook the pasta in boiling water and drain when it’s still al dente, about 2 minutes less than the regular cooking time. Set aside.
Sprinkle black pepper over a large skillet set on medium heat. Toast the pepper 20 seconds, then add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is completely melted, add bone broth to the skillet. Bring to a rapid simmer. Add the zoodles or pasta.
Cook about 2 minutes, tossing the noodles in the sauce, until zoodles or noodles are soft but not soggy.
Dump the noodles into a large bowl. Pour any leftover sauce in the skillet on top. Sprinkle in the cheese, tossing the noodles until the cheese is melted and noodles are coated. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately.