Cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta recipe

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's cacio e pepe pasta.
Neil Perry's cacio e pepe pasta. Photo: William Meppem

The key is using the starchy pasta water in the sauce to make it stick.


400g spaghetti

320g pecorino romano, very finely grated, plus extra to serve

120g parmigiano reggiano, very finely grated, plus extra to serve

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve


1. Place a large pot with 1½ litres of water over high heat, bring to the boil and salt lightly, add the pasta, stir well and cook for one minute less than the time indicated on the packet. Before draining, spoon 1 cup of the starchy, foamy water off the top and reserve.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl large enough to mix all the pasta, combine the pecorino, parmigiano and black pepper.

3. Once the pasta is al dente and drained, add to the cheese mixture. Mix well, then gradually stir in some of the reserved cooking water, a tablespoon at a time, just until the cheese melts and the sauce coats the pasta. It should have the consistency of thick cream. You'll only need half to three-quarters of the reserved pasta water.

4. Divide the pasta between four bowls. Give an extra grind of black pepper and sprinkling of both cheeses. Serve immediately.

If you like this simple recipe, try my rigatoni alla grica.