Week 23: Cacio e Pepe with Arugula and Lemon
I can’t believe it’s already July, which means that the Try Something Yum project is officially half-way through! You may notice that this post is labeled week 23 as I’ve missed a couple of weeks, but I’m back and committed to finishing the year with a new recipe every week.
This week I felt like doing something fast and easy but also tasty and different from what I usually make. I was also craving pasta, so I guess it’s not that different, but I have never tried making cacio e pepe at home. I had the absolute best cacio e pepe of my life in Rome last November. Just thinking of it makes me smile. Obviously this doesn’t come close, but the flavours were reminiscent of that incredible trip and eating this dinner made me so happy.
I should note that this is more of a take on cacio e pepe than a traditional version, but I enjoyed the added touches of arugula and lemon zest as they brought a freshness to the dish. Shout out to Half Baked Harvest for yet another awesome recipe. I feel like I should try out a variety of blogs, but I have to admit, HBH has become one of my favourites. She posts new recipes like four times a week, there’s tons of variety (vegetarian recipes, non-vegetarian recipes, baking, beverages, etc.), and her blog is easy to navigate. Maybe I’ll branch out next week, but for now, I’m happy to share another awesome recipe from this site. And by the way, if you haven’t decided what you’re having for dinner tonight, here’s your perfect solution. Buon appetito!
Ingredients: pasta, cheese, *salted* butter, baby arugula, lemon, basil – pretty easy to pull together and although the cheeses aren’t cheap, the total cost is still reasonable
Timing: 35 minutes! Not bad! And it probably could have even been a little faster if I didn’t have to toss the pasta so carefully since it was almost overflowing from my pan.
Yield: 5 servings
Serving: for dinner – on its own or with a side salad or other veg
How did it go? Great! This was actually pretty easy. Except out of habit I drained the pasta, dumped out all the water, and completely forgot to reserve some for the sauce. Oops. So I had to use regular tap water and although I’m sure starchy pasta water would be better, it still turned out great. A full pound of pasta is a LOT and I didn’t fully realize that when I picked out a saucepan. I had a bit of difficulty tossing the pasta in the sauce without spilling all over the stove. Overall though, I’d call this one a win and a great idea to add to the repertoire for a fast and easy weeknight meal.
Taste: Delicious! The sauce was bomb. I love the cheesiness of it. I’m not sure if the authentic Roman cacio e pepe dish blends parmigiano with the pecorino, which I’m assuming this recipe did since pecorino can be a little sharp. This had a milder flavour that might be nice for those who prefer it. I might up the ratio of pecorino to parmigiano in the future. It was still so delicious though. The lemon zest and arugula added a bright freshness that I enjoyed as a twist on the classic. The pepperiness of the arugula compliments the black pepper in the dish.
- Don’t forget to reserve some starchy pasta water before draining the pasta (oops).
- Use a big enough saucepan for an entire pound of long noodle pasta.
- Skip the basil – it’s not traditional or necessary and I didn’t feel it added anything to the dish.
- Instead, grate some fresh pecorino on top for an extra cheesy finishing touch. Might as well crack a little more fresh pepper while you’re at it.
Luke’s review: Cacio pepe recipe was quite the doozy. Delicious, warm, and inviting, spicy yet subtle. Long thick noodles loaded with cheese and fresh arugula and lemon zest to top it all off. Bellissimo!
Luke’s recipe rating: two thumbs up