As many people know, Andrew and I spend a lot of time working from home. Working from home is wonderful – I love it, but sometimes lunch can get a little boring. It’s all too easy to grab a slice of deli meat, a piece of cheese and an apple and head back to our offices calling it “lunch.” Every now and then though, you just need a good hot lunch!
Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Italian pasta that’s super simple to make- it’s literally pasta with cheese and pepper, and that’s it! It’s delicious as a starter course or on it’s own with a side salad, but I thought – what if I made traditional Cacio e Pepe (where the sauce is made from cheese and pasta water), but turned up the volume with everyday ingredients you already have in the fridge/freezer/pantry? So I did, and I’ve been making this one-serving delight for lunches or dinners alone for years!
The beauty of this dish is it’s single serve (you could of course make a bigger portion), and you can add whatever you have on hand to turn up the volume! My favorite is orecchiette pasta with sauteed shallot, asparagus, a little white wine, frozen peas, garlic and cheese (and of course pasta water). But, seriously – use whatever you have! The day I took these pictures I didn’t have orecchiette or asparagus, so I used pappardelle and green beans instead.
One thing I will say about this pasta, don’t overcook it! Since it’s such a simple dish, you REALLY want the pasta to be al dente and the vegetables just tender. Since we’re not using anything but wine and pasta water in the sauce, and we cook the whole dish in 10-15 minutes, there is no time for the flavors to develop. By cooking everything to al dente, the ingredients maintain their vibrant flavors and give a nice bite when you eat them.
Since the dish is meant to be single-serve, I haven’t provided any measurements – make as much or as little as you like. As a point of reference, for just me I would probably use between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of pasta, about 3 asparagus, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 large shallot, about 1/4 cup of frozen peas, a splash of wine, salt & pepper, a ladle of pasta water and a good helping of parmesan cheese – but those are my proportions. I usually throw in a pinch of red chili flakes as well, but only when I’m feeling spicy 😉 Bon appetit!
Salt & pepper
Red Chili Flakes (optional)
Cook the pasta in boiling, heavily salted water for 3 minutes UNDER the box cooking time, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, melt unsalted butter in a saute pan and briefly cook the onion and asparagus until just tender. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Check the pasta before the cooking time is up and when it’s just al dente, use a spider tool to scoop the pasta into the saute pan. Add a splash of wine and a ladle of the water from the pasta, and reduce the sauce. It should only take 2-3 minutes and most of the water will evaporate off and the sauce will thicken (there isn’t much sauce, most absorbs into the pasta). If at any time the pasta gets too dry (or you like more sauce), just add more cooking liquid. When the sauce is absorbed, remove from the heat and add a good helping of cheese, stirring to incorporate. Plate, top with more cheese and enjoy!