This shop featuring my recipe for cacio e pepe has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older. #Chardonnation #NotableSummer #CollectiveBias
Do you know what I did yesterday? I spent almost the entire day working on organizing my garage. Silly me, I thought it would be an easy task. I had some cool pulley systems to install on the ceiling to hang our bikes. The garage system I’d installed before had a few extra pieces to add on. All in all, this should have been a two to three hour project – or so I thought in my head.
In reality, this project took almost seven hours and two trips to the hardware store, but only one bandage for a minor injury (to me). I still have one wall accessory not hung because I misjudged how many screws we needed to buy and couldn’t stomach another trip to the hardware store, and only two bikes are hung instead of four because now that I see how they hang, I can’t decide where to place the other two.
Did I mention this is a two person (minimum) job? I have awesome friends who put up with my nonsense and big ideas, and I’m pretty sure they know I reward them in food and drink once we finish. Lucky her, I’d stocked up on Notable Wines the last time I headed to the store, which meant I had both the oaky and buttery Chardonnay and the fruity and crisp Chardonnay. Amazingly, I’d even stuck them in the fridge, so they were plenty chilled.
It never fails to amaze me how the same varietal can vary so deeply in taste. I know what I like, but it’s often hard to figure out whether the bottle I pick up matches my preference unless it’s one I’ve tried before. Notable Wines gets that, and they’re the first wine that showcase the flavor profile on the bottle itself. Just look at the notes on the front (do you sense a theme yet?) and choose whether you want the fruity and crisp or the oaky and buttery Chardonnay.
This makes it perfect for a quick gathering, as the likelihood that my friends have the same preferences – and same wine experience – that I do are minimal. That’s partly why I brought out both bottles so my friend could choose what we’d enjoy as we relaxed on my front porch and tried to recuperate after a harder day than we’d planned. Would you believe that I met my step target just walking back and forth in my garage, up and down ladders all day?
As grateful as I was to my friend for helping, I owed her something to eat. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to create a grand feast or anything super complicated. That’s when I remembered cacio e pepe. I make this every Christmas for my aunt, who can’t eat my traditional lasagne. I started making it because it was such a simple and quick addition to our Christmas Eve dinner, but the flavor of the cacio e pepe is way beyond the simplicity of its ingredients.
If you’ve never had this dish, you’re in for a treat – just like my friend. Had she not watched me create this dish, she would never have believed I prepared it in just fifteen minutes. Cacio e pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper, the two primary flavors of this dish. They meld with butter and pasta water (an Italian trick to great pasta!) to create a creamy sauce that pairs beautifully with the Notable Wines fruity and crisp Chardonnay. For a wine new to market as of March, they have a fab wine. The citrus, melon, and peach notes in the fruity and crisp Chardonnay are spot on.
A couple tips on enjoying your wine before I share the delicious plates of cacio e pepe. After all, you want to enjoy your beverage as much as your food, right?
- Remove your Notable Wines Chardonnay from the fridge when you start to make the cacio e pepe. While white wine should be chilled, straight from the fridge is too cold to enjoy the notes of your wine. Let it sit out for 10-15 minutes and the few degrees warmer provide so much more flavor.
- You don’t want it to get too warm, however, especially in summer months. When you go to a fancy restaurant and they put your white wines in an ice bucket, that helps maintain the temperature. Skip the wine bucket, but find an insulating sleeve or marble wine cooler that keeps your wine cool for as long as you have it out.
- Before you open your wine, cut the foil below the lip of the bottle. This ensures the foil doesn’t interfere with the flavor of your wine.
- Invest in a wine vacuum. If you don’t finish your bottle of wine, you want to avoid it continuing to oxidize, which changes the taste. A wine vacuum lets you enjoy your wine tomorrow just as much as you did today.
- When you pour the wine, twist the bottle away from you as you stop pouring. This ensures your wine doesn’t drip, as the last of your wine pour returns to the bottle instead of dribbling out.
- When you find a bottle of wine you like such as the Notable Wines Chardonnay, keep the cork or steam off the label. This way you can remember what you drank and want to enjoy again!
Ready to enjoy a chill night on the patio with a friend after a hard day’s work?
How to Make Cacio e Pepe
This recipe uses two pots. Heat your water in a pasta pot, and be sure to add salt, enough to impart some flavor into your pasta and raise the boiling temperature of your water. Your other pot should be a skillet large enough to hold your cooked pasta with room to spare.
Once the water boils, add your pasta and let it cook. Set your timer for two minutes less than the package instructions. You want this to be slightly more al dente than you’re used to. While the pasta cooks, turn the heat in your second pot to medium and add the butter and freshly ground pepper. Let the butter melt then bubble. I love the flavor of browned butter, so let it keep cooking until it starts to darken, then turn off the heat.
When the pasta finishes cooking, remove the pasta but do not dump the water and do not rinse the pasta. You need this for you sauce. Add the drained pasta to the pot with the browned butter and turn the heat to medium low. Using tongs, toss the pasta with the butter and pepper.
Add 3/4 cup of pasta water and start adding the freshly grated cheese. This is not the time to use something you get from a can. Use your favorite Italian cheeses – Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino Romano, etc – or a combination. Use a box grater or pull out your food processor and grate up a block.
Add a small handful at a time and toss between additions so the cheese melts. If you add too much at once, it turns into a big clumpy mess that’s much harder to melt. Add more pasta water as the water evaporate.
Toss again to ensure the cheese melted entirely and the pasta achieved a good consistency. Serve immediately. I like to add a touch more freshly grated cheese and some extra fresh pepper to the pasta just before I eat.
Save one last cup of your pasta water. If you have leftovers, add a little pasta water to the portion you reheat. This creates the creamy consistency you enjoyed when it was fresh. Truly, you just made a simple but complex pasta in fifteen minutes.
Have you ever tried cacio e pepe? What your favorite pasta dish?
This delicious and easy traditional Italian pasta recipe uses just four ingredients but creates amazingly complex flavor in just 15 minutes. If you've never tried cacio e pepe before, you're in for a treat!
- 1 lb spaghetti or fettucine, uncooked
- 3 T butter
- 1 t pepper
- 1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring salted water for pasta to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and set timer for 2 minutes less than package instructions.
- In a separate pot, turn heat to medium and add butter and freshly ground pepper. Brown the butter, 3-4 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Drain but do not rinse pasta, and save pasta water. Add drained pasta to browned butter and turn heat to medium low. Using tongs, toss the pasta with the butter and pepper. Add 3/4 cup of pasta water and start adding the freshly grated cheese, a small handful at a time. Toss between additions so the cheese melts.
- Add pasta water as necessary to keep it from drying out. Once all cheese is melted, serve immediately. Top plates of pasta with additional Parmesan and a touch of pepper.
If you have leftovers, save a cup of pasta water in a separate container. When reheating a serving, add a bit of pasta water to help achieve the original creamy texture.