If you aren’t already privy to Cacio e Pepe, it’s time to familiarize yourself, STAT! This minimal dish is everything you need in a comforting pasta. Like a more sophisticated, grown-up version of Mac ‘n Cheese, Cacio e Pepe is simply pasta, butter, cracked black pepper and a mix of salty parmesan and pecorino. Basic.
Knowing how to make basic dishes like this is an important step in your journey as a home chef. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s so exciting come up with your own twist on the classics. After many years of practice, I’ve got a good handle on Cacio e Pepe. Now, I’ve modified the original to create my version; Cacio e Pepe with Cherry Tomatoes.
Much like its mother pasta, Cacio e Pepe with Cherry Tomatoes doesn’t take much effort. I start with the tried & true recipe for Cacio e Pepe recipe by Bon Appetit, one of my go-to weeknight meals. When tomatoes are popping off at the markets, I liven things up by sautéing the plump little flavor bombs in olive oil until they start to burst with warmth and flavor.
The sweet little orbs get lightly tossed into the cheesy pasta, blending their bursting flavor into the cheese and making a rich velvety sauce. Then I add a crunchy, toasty bit by sprinkling burnt garlic bread crumbs over the top. A sprinkle of fresh chopped basil adds herbaceousness, and a spritz of lemon brings a final hit of tangy acidity.
My recipe for Cacio e Pepe with Cherry Tomatoes is simple, satisfying, flavorful, bright and most important, easy to make. It’s the ideal go-to weeknight meal, and when paired with a simple green salad and a glass of crisp Sav Blanc, dinner at home can be more desirable than a night out.
- Kosher salt
- pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti) - 6 oz.
- unsalted butter, cubed, divided - 3 Tbsp.
- freshly cracked black pepper -1 tsp.
- finely grated Parmesan - 3/4 cup
- finely grated Pecorino - 1/3 cup
- fresh cherry tomatoes - 1 - 1 1/2 cups
- burnt garlic breadcrumbs - 1/2 cup
- freshly chopped basil - 1/4 cup
- Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender.
- Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add about 3/4 of the cherry tomatoes and sauté until they just start to blister. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Add the cracked pepper to the butter in the skillet and cook, swirling the pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
- Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Parmesan, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino and sautéed cherry tomatoes, gently stirring and tossing until cheese melts and the tomatoes and cheese meld into a sauce that coats the pasta. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.)
- Transfer pasta to bowls, top with halved, fresh tomatoes, burnt garlic breadcrumbs and fresh chopped basil.
- Serve immediately while still warm and melty.
- Like a more sophisticated and grown-up version of Mac 'n Cheese, Cacio e Pepe with Cherry Tomatoes is simply pasta, butter, cracked black pepper and a mix of salty parmesan and pecorino tossed with gently sautéed cherry tomatoes for a fresh burst of acidic sweetness. Topped with crunchy, burnt garlic breadcrumbs and fresh chopped basil making the ideal weeknight meal