Cacio e pepe, meaning "cheese and pepper", is an Italian pasta dish that is stupid simple but mind blowingly delicious. It consists of pasta, butter, parmesan cheese, pepper, lemon, and a little bit of salt. I would consider it to be the Italians version of mac'n cheese but way better. Like wayyyy better.
I should admit, though, that I exaggerated when saying this would only take you twenty minutes. It will probably take thirty, but I wasn't including the time it takes to boil the water because I expect (and hope) you'll be doing other things while the water heats up. A watched pot never boils, right?
By the way, this is a vegan version of cacio e pepe, because I love butter and cheese just as much as the rest of you but I have to alter the recipe in order to have it. And, of course, I need to share this discovery with the rest of the vegans out there so they know how easy and delicious this Italian classic is, too.
Let's get started!
Serves 1 large portion
- 1 cup of capellini or angel hair pasta
- 1.5 tbsp Earth Balance butter
- 1/4 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 tsp of finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp of salt (you don't have to use pink Himalayan salt, that's just what I happen to have)
- Zest of a lemon
- First, fill a medium sized pot with water. Place on stove at high heat, sprinkle salt into the water, and cover. Let sit to boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir until completely submerged in the water. Occasionally stir to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself or the bottom of the pot. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off heat and strain.
- While the pasta is straining, melt the 1.5 tbsp of vegan butter over medium-low in the same pot the pasta was cooked in. Don't turn the heat up to increase melting time. Earth Balance has a very low burning point and will caramelize fast if the heat is too high.
- Once the butter is fully melted, add the pasta back to the pot and toss in the butter until coated. Next, add the cheese and pepper, again tossing to coat.
- Last, either zest the lemon or peel part of the skin and toss it with the pasta, just like before. I don't have a zester but this method works just as fine and in my opinion leaves a subtler lemon taste than actual zest.
- Plate your pasta and add a little extra pepper if you want. If the pasta is too cheesy or salty, I recommend adding the pepper to balance it out.
This is such an easy dish and will always be a big comfort food for me. It's easy to make for a group of people or just yourself. Adding fresh parsley either on top or chopped and combined into the pasta itself is a nice flavor, too/ Whichever you choose, I highly recommend pairing it with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or your other favorite white wine.