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    Roman spaghetti cacio e pepe

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    Roman spaghetti cacio e pepe

    This recipe started life as a shepherd's meal, and has long been a Roman favourite. The secret lies in getting the proportion of cheese and cooking water just right so as to create a creamy sauce. This is harder than it sounds, hence the addition of butter and olive oil in our version, which helps the sauce emulsify.

    • Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus resting
    • Cooking time: 15 minutes
    • Total time: 45 minutes, plus resting

    Serves: 2


    200g super fine 00 grade pasta flour
    2 large eggs
    semolina, to dust
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
    20g unsalted butter
    50g mature pecorino, finely grated


    You can also use dried spaghetti in this recipe. Allow 75-100g per person


    1. Put the flour and eggs into a food processor with a pinch of salt. Click here to follow the method for the pasta dough recipe.

    2. When the dough has rested, cut it into quarters. Take 1 quarter, keeping the rest covered in cling film, and roll out very thinly either with a rolling pin (don’t flour the work surface – it helps to stretch the pasta) or using a pasta machine to the penultimate setting; you should be able to just see through the pasta. Cut each strip into roughly 30cm lengths and dust with semolina.

    3. Roughly fold the dough 3 or 4 times from the shortest end upwards and slice into 1cm-wide strips. Alternatively, run it through a pasta machine using the spaghetti setting, then wrap small handfuls around your hand to create nests (like those on the front cover). Put each one on a tray dusted with semolina and repeat with the remaining dough.

    4. Cook the nests in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1-3 minutes, until al dente; do not drain. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, then add the black pepper. Fry until fragrant and just starting to sizzle – about 1-2 minutes – then take off the heat.

    5. When the pasta is cooked, transfer about 2 tbsp cooking water to the frying pan. Set over a low heat and stir in the butter. Using tongs, lift the spaghetti out of the pan and into the frying pan (allowing some pasta water to travel with it). Add the pecorino and the remaining 1 tbsp oil, then stir vigorously with a fork until the cheese is completely melted. This may take some time – around 5-10 minutes. Add a few more serving spoonfuls of pasta water as you stir to adjust the consistency, reheating as necessary, until the sauce is creamy and coats each strand of spaghetti. When it’s ready, season with a little salt, divide between 2 warm bowls and grind over a little more pepper. Serve at once.

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    This recipe first appeared in Waitrose Food, August 2018 issue. Download the Waitrose Food app for the full issue


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