With this recipe for spaghetti cacio e pepe, you will be able to make an authentic classic Italian dish that will transport you to Italy without leaving your own kitchen.
Continued from my last post about La Caciosteria di Casa Lawrence…
Loreto had asked if I wanted to cook a quick Cacio e Pepe pasta, and I just couldn’t resist! I have actually never made Cacio e Pepe pasta, probably because my mother and nonna never did. Now I’m wondering why, since it is a dish that originated in their area.
Disclosure: my family and I were hosted for lunch by Loreto at Casa Lawrence at no charge. As always, all opinions are my own.
Cacio means cheese and Pepe is black pepper, so with Loreto’s Pecorino di Picinisco D.O.P., I could only imagine how fabulous this pasta would taste. We went back into the kitchen and I grabbed apron; it just happened to be the one which said, “La Cacioste”, which translates to a female cheese maker! Perfect!
Please watch the short video, but remember, I’m not a professional filmmaker. I had to finish filming on my iPhone–oops!
Click HERE to watch Loreto making Cacio e Pepe Pasta!
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Black Pepper Pasta)
recipe by Loreto Pacitti, Casa Lawrence
- 1lb of good quality spaghetti (I like De Cecco) note: Loreto used bucatini, as he didn’t have spaghetti on hand
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups (250 to 300 g) grated pecorino cheese (Pecorino di Picinisco D.O.P. is preferred, but use the best quality you can find!)
- 1 tsp to 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste (Loreto used Rimbàs pepper, but I can’t find it to order online, here in the US; please let me know if you know of a source)
- sea salt
NB: I have read that there are feuds over this pasta recipe. One issue is that some claim that there should be nothing else added to the pasta except for cheese and pepper; meaning no oil and no pasta water. I don’t want to enter into the debate as this was my first time tasting Cacio e Pepe. However, I will say that Loreto’s recipe is authentic. His family has been farming and making cheese in Picinisco for generations, and that’s enough for me. Not to mention that the pasta was incredibly delicious and I wouldn’t want to make it any other way!
Mix the cheese and ground pepper together and set aside. Loreto didn’t put a lot of pepper, maybe 1 1/2 tsp as he said those who like more can add it to their plates afterwards.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water (use less water than usual, as one of the important parts of this dish is the starch, which is needed for the sauce to form correctly) until al dente.
Put the extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of the pasta water into a non-stick skillet, without turning on the burner. Add the grated cheese and pepper, and begin stirring the pasta, off the heat. Loreto says it’s very important not to use heat when stirring in the cheese and pepper. If heat is used, you will end up with clumps of cheese on the pasta.
Continue to add water as necessary until a sauce begins to form on the pasta. Loreto says that sometimes the simplest dishes are the most difficult. If this step is not done correctly, the sauce won’t turn out as it should.
Once Loreto served up all the pasta, which included two plates for a lovely English couple, named Angela and Les, who happened to be driving through the area. Apparently, a lady at their bank that morning had told them they just had to go to Picinisco as it was so gorgeous! Loreto invited them to sample his pasta. They were so welcomed and enjoyed the time they spent with us, that they promised they’d book reservations to come back on Sunday (lucky them). The conversation you hear in the background of the video is my mother talking to Angela and Les–haha! You can tell this was a spur of the moment video production.
Gianfranco was done with photos and videos and wanted to eat, but this time besides “the face”, I also got hands-on-the-hips action!
The pasta was phenomenal, given the combination of flavors from the piquant cheese and the spicy black pepper. It’s definitely something I’m going to be putting on my regular dinner rotation at home. Unfortuntely, I won’t have Loreto’s Pecorino di Picinisco D.O.P. or Rimbàs black pepper. (See below for a photo of my own Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti which I made when I came back to Los Angeles!)
If you think that was it for our lunch, you’d once again be mistaken. Loreto went inside and carried out a lovely Crostata di Fighi (Fig Tart). He also brought out some homemade Nocino (hazelnut liqueur). He then went to pick some grapes and another fruit I’ve never even seen before.
Corbezzelo is the name of the red berry-type fruit, but in dialect Loreto said it was called, “m’briachella” inferring that eating too many of them will make you drunk! I think that might just be an old wives’ tale, but who knows, I didn’t eat enough of them to know for sure! I did like the flavor and texture of the sweet fruit, but it was definitely different than any other fruit I’ve tasted.
After enjoying our fresh fruit and dessert, Loreto gave us a tour of Casa Lawrence, which is another building separate from La Caciosteria. This is where D.H. Lawrence lived and where the restaurant is located.
Walking into Casa Lawrence is like walking into a museum that’s lived-in. It was fantastic to see all the old bits and pieces, like a stone hand-grinder and the corn-husk mattress that my mother had told me about in the past. There were a lot more tables in the restaurant rooms than I had expected to see, and just hope the next time I’m at Casa Lawrence that I’ll be able to enjoy a meal in one of them.
We finally said our goodbyes after our tour of Casa Lawrence, with many thanks to Loreto for an incredibly enjoyable afternoon and hopes for another visit in the near future. I do know that whenever I make Cacio e Pepe pasta, it won’t be possible to make it without thinking of Loreto and Casa Lawrence.
I hope that if you are ever in Lazio, especially if you are in Frosinone, that you will be able to visit Casa Lawrence. I’m sure I don’t need to say anymore about the food there, the areas nearby are just as phenomenal and it’s not far from Rome, Naples, Pompeii, beach cities and mountain towns.
Casa Lawrence website for booking stays
Tripadvisor Reviews for Casa Lawrence
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And as promised, here is a picture of my very first plate of Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti made here in LA, with many more to follow.
Disclosure: I received lunch for four at La Caciosteria di Casa Lawrence at no charge. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products and services that would I use myself. I am disclosing this in compliance with FTC regulations.
- 1lb of good quality spaghetti (I like De Cecco)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ to 2 cups (250 to 300 g) grated pecorino cheese (Pecorino di Picinisco D.O.P. is preferred, but use the best quality you can find!)
- 1 tsp to 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- sea salt
- Mix the cheese and ground pepper together and set aside. Loreto didn’t put a lot of pepper, maybe 1½ tsp as he said those who like more can add it to their plates afterwards.
- Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water (use less water than usual, as one of the important parts of this dish is the starch, which is needed for the sauce to form correctly) until al dente.
- Put the extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of the pasta water into a non-stick skillet, without turning on the burner. Add the grated cheese and pepper, and begin stirring the pasta, off the heat. Loreto says it’s very important not to use heat when stirring in the cheese and pepper or else you will end up with clumps of cheese on the pasta.
- Continue to add water as necessary until a sauce begins to form on the pasta. Loreto says that sometimes the simplest dishes are the most difficult, and if this is not done correctly (for example, stirring in the cheese and pepper over heat), the sauce won’t turn out as it should.
- Serve immediately.