As I've said before about cacio e pepe, its pasta, cheese, salt, pepper. What's not to love?! As simple a dish as it is, the flavours of all ingredients really matter, so use the best you can get.
Toasted peppercorns are the perfect smoky spice for anything. Here they complement the cheese exceptionally well to make a cheesy sauce that covers the pasta and asparagus.
Cacio e pepe is a Roman dish, and traditionally only has cheese, pepper, and pasta tossed together with a little bit of the starchy pasta cooking water added to bind the sauce together. This recipe has sautéed asparagus added because I had some fresh perky asparagus waiting, and I wanted a vegetable with the pasta so I could make it a meal.
Cacio e Pepe Con Asparagi
Makes: 4 servings
- 1/2 box bucatini or spaghetti
- 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2 in. long pieces
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 tbsp. coarsely ground toasted black pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated (in a pinch use Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or other hard cheese (or a combination of hard cheeses))
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan.
- Add the pepper and asparagus and sauté till the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.
- When the pasta is done, remove from the heat. Using tongs, lift the pasta from the water, add to the pan with the cooked asparagus and mix in with the asparagus.
- Remove the pan from heat. Immediately add the grated cheese and about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water and mix so the cheese coats the pasta and asparagus.
- Serve hot with additional cheese and pepper to taste.