Tonnarelli cacio e pepe / tonnarelli with cheese and pepper

May 7, 2018

Serves two:

  • 160g tonnarelli pasta or you can use spaghetti if difficult to get
  • a good handful of grated Pecorino cheese
  • a good handful of grated Parmesan cheese
  • *combined weight of the cheeses shouldn’t be more than 100g
  • 8 pinches of black pepper, freshly grated

Start with bringing the water to boil (for the pasta) add some salt and the tonarelli. They require about 10 min to cook, so check on them after 8 minutes.

In the meantime heat a separate pan (that we will add the pasta to later on), add some pepper, eight pinches and gently heat the pepper, it should start releasing its aroma. Now add 3-4 ladles of the water from the pot with the pasta. Cook the pepper while the liquid is reducing.

Check on the pasta. It should be just before the ‘al dente’ stage (still having some crunch in it).

Reserve a cup of water used to boil the pasta. Add the pasta (you can either strain it or add just with the thongs straight from the pot) into the pan with the pepper and carry on cooking, stirring or tossing the pasta almost all the time (so it absorbs the flavour of pepper and thickens the cooking liquid at the same time). If it gets dry add some reserved water, we are looking for creating a lovely creamy coating for the pasta.
At the same time in a small bowl mix the cheeses, add one tablespoon or two of the reserved water.

Combine it all together to a consistency of a thick cream.

Taste the pasta, it should be ‘al dente’ by now. Take the pan off the heat and work the cheese mixture with the pasta. Stir or toss it all the time, the cheese should melt and turn into a soft creamy sauce that coats each bit of pasta. Ready to serve!

* The Pecorino cheese is salty enough, so there is no need to add anything more than the pepper.