The Ultimate Minimalist Pasta

© WENDELL T. WEBBER
By F&W Editors Posted January 26, 2016

Looking for an amazing recipe to shake up your weeknight pasta repertoire? The best answer might just be the simplest.

Cacio e pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper—which is essentially the recipe. This classic Roman dish is a deliciously minimalist combination of pasta (typically spaghetti), fresh-cracked black pepper, tangy Pecorino Romano cheese and—probably the most integral ingredient—hot pasta water, which transforms the cheese and pepper into a sublimely simple and delicious sauce. Here, five ways to make your new favorite pasta recipe, cacio e pepe, including both classic and unconventional variations.

1. Pasta Cacio e Pepe (above)
This rustic recipe calls for just five ingredients and comes together in no time. A little bit of butter gives the sauce an extra-silky boost.

2. Cacio e Pepe Pasta Pie 
F&W's Justin Chapple uses three types of cheese in this indulgent and delicious baked spaghetti pie.

Food & Wine: Cacio e Pepe Pasta Pie

© Andrew Purcell

3. Tonnarelli with Pecorino and Black Pepper 
Instead of traditional spaghetti, this recipe calls for tonnarelli, a kind of fresh, square spaghetti. It also includes vegetable stock for super-velvety sauce.

4. Bucatini with Pecorino and Coarse Pepper 
Cherry tomatoes aren’t traditional in cacio e pepe, but they’re still delicious in this vibrant take on the classic recipe.

Food & Wine: Bucatini with Pecorino and Coarse Pepper

© LISA LINDER

5. Cacio e Pepe-Style Braised Kale 
For this fast twist on the Italian pasta, F&W's Kay Chun replaces the noodles with kale.

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