Cacio e pepe pasta

A truly quick and delicious dish that’s ready as soon as the pasta is. This is a perfect winter lunch with all that warm heat from the black pepper.

Serves 1

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
750ml boiling water
100g dried spaghetti
1 tbsp black pepper, coarsely cracked
Sea salt
25g grana padano cheese, finely grated

Boil the water and keep it at a roiling boil in a small pan that you can easily pour from. Heat the oil in a wide saute or saucepan on medium heat, add the pepper and fry it until it starts to release its aromas.

Add the spaghetti to the pan and immediately add enough water to cover the pasta. As you’re adding water to hot oil it’s going to spit and swell up so be very careful here. Salt the water generously.

Now your job is to stay by the pan and keep the water topped up as it boils away. Just add a few sloshes at a time. The situation you want to avoid is when your pasta is cooked but you’ve got too much water left in the pan. The idea of this balancing act is to have your pasta cooked with just a sauce-like sheen of pasta water left in the pan.

Once the spaghetti is cooked you need to whip the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese. Keep the mixture moving to make sure that the cheese melts evenly into the sauce. Serve straight away.


This recipe feeds one but it’s easily adjusted to suit however many you’re cooking for.

Feel free to adjust the amount of pepper depending on how spicy you want the dish to turn out.

Make sure you do keep a little pot of water on the boil nearby. You don’t want to be adding cold water to the pasta pan.