Last night, Stud was legit and on call at the hospital, so it was just me and the Beau Man for dinner. And usually, when it's just me for dinner, I tend to slack off and graze for dinner. The main reason being I find it really hard to cook for one person. I am trying to be better about that, and seeing as I could have a lot of solo nights ahead of me, last night I was determined to make something delicious and tasty just for me. And I just wanted to spoil myself.
Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) pasta is something I ate a lot of in Italy when I went with my family in 2004. I used to be a reallllly picky eater. I was even a little iffy on the pepper in the pasta. It took living in France for five months in 2006 to awaken me to the culinary world and to actually be adventurous in my eating. But Cacio e Pepe pasta is still a favorite of mine because it has some of my favorite foods in one spot - cheese and pasta. Lots of cheese and little pasta. Yum. And even if I eat more foods now than I did when I first had this pasta, how can you go wrong with cheese.
This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated which I think is the best food magazine out there. They make each recipe several times, trying out different variations until it's perfect. Saves me the time and effort. My mom is actually a test cook for their recipes. Pretty cool. Sorry - tangent. Back to the food.
Cacio e Pepe Pasta
4 oz Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb spaghetti
2 T. whole milk
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. finely ground black pepper
Finely grate the Pecorino into a medium sized bowl. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. When the pasta is finished, drain and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water. Slowly pour 1 c. of the pasta water over the grated Pecorino whisking as you pour. When the mixture is smooth, add in the milk, oil, and black pepper. Gradually pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and mix together until the pasta is well coated. If the cheese mixture is to thick, use the extra 1/2c. to thin it out.
This pasta was delicious. The pasta water and the cheese made a great creamy sauce and according to Cooks Illustrated, adding the milk prevents the cheese from forming back into clumps. And they were right - the sauce stayed smooth. I wish I had a better pepper grinder and/or actual pepper corns so the pepper would have had more of an aesthetic appearance in the pasta. With my grinder, it makes it so small you couldn't really even see it in the pasta. But it was there. And it was gooood.
I debated cutting the recipe in half since it was just me, and as much as I can eat, I know I can't eat a pound of pasta. But I knew Stud would be rummaging the fridge when he got home from the hospital and in the interest of protecting my leftovers lunch for today, I went ahead and made the whole pound. I know...I am so smart.