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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Simple, Yet Exquisite...
Perciatellini - Cacio Pepe
By: Angelo DeCecco

(Serves 4; 15 minutes to prepare)
 

 

Ah, life in Rome, Italy: a dream come true.... We moved to Rome this summer, and have finally settled into an apartment in a residential area not far from the city center. I finally have some time to share recipes for a few Roman dishes we have been enjoying since we arrived.
 
While Rome is a very romantic city full of history and life, there is a great difference between living in the city and just visiting as a tourist. Romans are thought of by other Italians as inconsiderate and hurried; much like we perhaps consider New Yorkers. Rome is a bustling city full of the problems and challenges that any major modern city face. Traffic is horrible, parking impossible, and one spends lots of time just taking care of life basics.
 
Despite long commutes and chaotic street life, Romans enjoy eating, and exceptional meals are the norm, just like in the rest of Italy. Due to long working days away from home, many Roman meals are simple, yet exquisite. Cacio e Pepe - perciatellini pasta with romano cheese and pepper -- is a perfect example of simple, quick but truly delicious meal. This dish is simply perfect - easy to prepare, easy to find ingredients, and everyone love it - from our picky 12 year old on up!
 
While Cacio e Pepe is considered a Roman meal, it is actually traditional in the entire Lazio region where Rome is located. There are as many variations of this classic as any family red sauce recipe. I talked to several of my neighbors about this recipe - all agreed that it is truly a simple Roman classic-- and each offered his own recipe, giving me a lot to work with!
 
Cacio e pepe is made with a wonderful but simple set of ingredients. Perciatellini is a Lazio regional specialty type of pasta similar to bucatini. Romano cheese - Romano meaning Roman in English -- is the next key ingredient. Romano is sheep (pecorino) cheese - no parmigianio in this recipe. Coarsely grated black pepper is then added to from the base of this plate. Lazio like the other regions of central Italy, makes fabulous olive oil which is the next ingredient. Finally, the last ingredient, and perhaps seemingly strange, is spearmint leaves.
 
This tasty dish can be prepared in less than 15 minutes, and serves as a fabulous antidote to a harried, stressful day. Serve with a Lazio region classic white wine such as a Frascati.
 
Buon appitito!
 
In the coming months, this column will introduce you to other facets of Italian culture as well as classic Italian dishes.
 
Recipe: Perciatellini Cacio e Pepe (Cacio and Pepper)
Serves 4 - 5

 


 

Ingredients:
 
1 lb Perciatellini Pasta (use bucatini or even spaghetti if Perciatellini is not available - Perciatellini is a Roma (and Lazio region) specialty.
 
4-5 oz of Romano Cheese (Pecorino Romano Cheese)- grated
 
.75oz of pepper black pepper grains (using mortar and pestle, grind roughly - not as fine as a pepper grinder)
 
6 tablespoons of really good olive oil
 
A small bunch of spearmint leaves, shredded
 
Instructions:
 


 

Bring water to a boil and cook the Perciatellini or bucatini until al dente. While the water is boiling, grate the cheese and coarsely grind the pepper. Toss the cheese and the pepper together.
 
Put the oil in a pan that is big enough to hold the pasta. Warm the oil, but don't allow it to smoke. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 3 - 4 tablespoons of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan, and toss to coat. Add the Romano cheese, pepper and reserved water and toss. Just before serving, add the shredded spearmint leaves and salt to taste.
 
Eat immediately if not sooner! Simple, yet exquisite!
 
 

Angelo a Penn State Grad, has had the great fortune of seeing the world with the US Army over the past 25 years. He currently lives in Rome, Italy where he spends the day contemplating making and eating food.
 
 
 
 

2017
 
Jan.  | Feb.  | Mar.  | Apr.  | May  | Jun.  | Jul.
 
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