Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spaghetti with Romano & Black Pepper

After seeing a picture of spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and black pepper on Instagram, and hearing Mario Batali talk about it on The Chew, I knew I had to make it.  

My daughters love pasta, but I was a little bit worried about the amount of black pepper in this recipe.  With a last name like Salerno, I shouldn't have been worried.  My twins and Nina, our international student, raved about this Roman pasta dish the whole time we were eating.

My husband missed out on a great dinner while he was out playing golf, but I am sure he will get a chance to sample it soon, because this simple and delicious pasta dish is a keeper.

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with Romano & Black Pepper)


1 lb (16 oz) gluten free spaghetti
1 T kosher salt
1 C reserved pasta water
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
2 T salted butter
3 oz grated Pecorino Romano + more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper


Bring water to a boil in a large soup or pasta pot, then add the salt, and stir before adding the spaghetti.  Cook the pasta for the minimum time suggested on the package, or until it is al dente.  Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid before draining the pasta.

Dry out the pot, add the olive oil, and heat it over high heat for about one minute, until it is almost smoking.  Remove the pot from the heat, and carefully add the spaghetti and the reserved pasta water, turning the pasta with cooking tongs or a large spoon.  Add the butter, Romano, and pepper, and toss until everything is well incorporated.

Serve immediately and garnish with Romano to taste.

Serves 4

Recipe Notes

When cooking a pound of pasta, I always use my soup pot, filling it a little over half full with water.

I suggest putting your one cup measure in your colander, so you don't forget to reserve the cooking liquid.  I usually use a little less than a cup, because I stick my one cup measurer in the pot and scoop out what I can, which is probably a tablespoon or two short of a cup.

I used almost two packages of Le Veneziane spaghetti, using my kitchen scale to measure out one pound.  I also used my kitchen scale to measure the Romano.  I order Le Veneziane, our favorite gluten free pasta, from  My gluten-eating family loves it, because it tastes like the gluten-filled pasta they enjoy in restaurants.

Stand back a bit when adding the reserved pasta water and spaghetti to the olive oil, just in case there is a little splatter.

I used grated Pecorino Romano from Whole Foods and Penzeys Tellicherry Coarse Grind Black Pepper.

I once made this dish with Parmigiano Reggiano, because I didn't have any Romano in the house.  We thought it made a huge difference in the taste, so I will be sticking with Pecorino Romano in the future.

I have made this recipe with a 12 oz package of Barilla gluten free spaghetti (cooked 9 minutes), 1 T kosher salt, 3/4 C reserved pasta water, 3 T extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 T salted butter, 2 1/4 oz grated Romano, and 1 tsp + 1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper.  It was amazing, and was enough to feed my daughters and I with a little left over.

Our favorite vegetables to serve with this dish are peas, steamed broccoli, or roasted Japanese sweet potatoes.  I know it sounds kind of odd to serve potatoes with pasta, but I got the idea from Trattoria al Forno at Disney World.  I try to buy one very large Japanese sweet potato when I make this recipe, or I use two smaller ones.  I peel it and cut it into small pieces (usually smaller than the ones you see in the picture), toss the potatoes with some olive oil and kosher salt, and roast them for 25 minutes in a 425 degree oven, turning them once.  

My latest way to serve this dish is to poach some eggs, cook some bacon, put them on top of each bowl of pasta, and voila, you have deconstructed spaghetti carbonara.  It is pretty amazing!  

Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

Linked to:  Gluten Free Fridays


  1. Pasta with parmesan/romano and black pepper is one of my favorite meals! It makes a great quick meal whenever I'm pressed for time. I always leave out the pepper for my girls, but if yours loved it I think I'll try adding a bit for them next time.

  2. This recipe looks amazing! I look forward to making it soon! Thanks for this website!