Cooking with Johannes: Olivia’s Favorite Pasta

A rich and flavorful Italian classic to indulge in.

Johannes and I love all Italian cuisine (as you can tell from our previous pesto post!), so I asked if this week he'd show how to make my all-time favorite pasta: Cacio e Pepe. 

Whenever I would pop by a beloved restaurant like Tutto Il Giorno or Sant Ambroeus, my eye would always find its way to this dish as I adore the cheesy flavor with a hint of pepper. So when Johannes agreed to make it for us, I was so excited to help. This easy recipe focuses on a layered approach to flavor with each cheese working together to create a creamy, but not heavy sauce. Twenty minutes later and with a glass of chianti in hand, I felt as if I was back in Italy. Plus, with all this home cooking, I'm becoming somewhat of a heeled contessa in the kitchen. What I love is that this recipe makes four servings, so a delicious lunch is all set, too.

- 1 1/2 cups of finely grated pecorino Romano cheese (keep some extra aside to dust the final dish)
- 1 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 tbsp of ground black pepper (keep some extra aside to dust the final dish)
- 3/4 lb of pasta
- Your preferred olive oil

- Put a pot of salted water onto the stove to boil.
- In a large bowl, combine all cheeses with the black pepper and mash with cold water to make a thick paste.
- Spread the paste evenly in the bowl and set aside.
- Once the water is boiling, add your pasta.
- Before it's fully cooked, take out a portion of the boiling water with a cup and transfer it the bowl with the cheese mixture.
- Drain the pasta and transfer to a skillet.
- Add the cheese mixture and stir vigorously so that the pasta is coated.
- Mix in a tsp or two of the olive oil and some of the pasta water should you need to thin out the sauce. (Note: the sauce should not be watery or runny)

Johannes's Bonus Tip:
When transferring the pasta into a skillet, add in some of the pasta water. Then, slowly add the cheese mixture while flipping and stirring the pasta for one to two minutes for an extra creamy, peppery finish.

Wine Pairing: Pair the rich pasta dish with a ruby red, Tuscan wine like Olivia's pick from Fattoria dei Barbi. The  Rosso di Montalcino blend is a favorite for its subtle hint of fresh berries.

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