Pasta with Cheese and Cracked Pepper

Oh sure.  That plate of pasta with cheese and pepper looks all innocent sitting there, doesn’t it? A simple little plate of linguine in a buttery, silky cheese sauce.  You twirl up a nice warm forkful, pop it in your mouth, and then it hits you…those little cracked peppercorns balance out all that niceness with just the right amount of naughty.  This supper has bite, baby!

The official and much more beautiful name for this dish is Cacio de Pepe (which I think simply means cheese with pepper), but whatever you call it, I promise that once you taste it you will be making it over and over and over again…it’s that simple and that good.  Now, you can take the very tamest approach by using the finest grind setting on your pepper grinder, or you can go for the gusto by going for the really coarse cracked version that you see in these pictures.

Put your pot of linguine on to boil, and while that’s going on, you’re going to melt some butter in a good-sized skillet.  Once it’s all nice and melted, toss in the peppercorns and stir them around for a minute or two.  Now comes the super-quick sauce, which you make by adding a little salty pasta water and some freshly grated parmesan, which is going to all dissolve together into a smooth, buttery skillet full of wonderfulness.  Pour the drained pasta right into the skillet, and toss it all around with some tongs until every strand is coated and the pepper is evenly divided.

Now divide it into warm bowls, and (depending on how you ground the pepper), watch the eyebrows raise as folks take that first bite of that shy-looking bowl of pasta.Naughty can be very, very nice!

Pasta with Cheese and Cracked Pepper
Serves: Serves two as a main dish, or four as a side dish
  • 8 ounces linguine
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon pepper, either freshly ground (for a milder taste) or coarsely cracked (for a more peppery taste!)
  • 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt it heavily (a couple of tablespoons) and cook the linguine according to package directions. Before draining, save a cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add pepper. Stir for a minute or two.
  3. Add ½ cup pasta water to the skillet and heat for about a minute. Add pasta, cheese and remaining butter and toss thoroughly until pasta is coated. Add more water to loosen the sauce if you need to.
  4. Divide pasta among warm bowls and serve.

Still Hungry?

Spaghetti with Garlic Bread Crumb Wine Sauce, from Framed Cooks

Creamy Avocado Pasta from Two Peas and Their Pod

The Way Life Should Be, from Framed Cooks


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  1. says

    You have combined some of my favorite ingredients! I love cracked pepper in pasta and the light cheese sauce you created looks really yummy! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

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