Dinner for One: Cacio e Pepe

Dinner

Cacio e Pepe

One year ago, on Valentine’s Day, I could’ve sworn I was going to die alone. And I might die alone, who knows, but right now it feels like I might be OK, which feels great! and hopeful!

Two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, I went to dinner with my best friend, Teri, and the server thought we were a lesbian couple. It kind of made us chuckle.

Here’s the thing about Valentine’s Day: I get that it’s about love, cupid and chocolate or whatever, but it’s kind of an exclusive holiday.

It’s like, if you’re psyched to be in a relationship, married, etc., then it’s awesome. And if you’re single and excited to be single, then it’s sort of just an ignored holiday. But, if you’re single and you don’t want to be single, then Valentine’s Day is an annoying holiday.

Since I think exclusivity is just stupid, I’ve made you a dish for you to make for yourself.

Dinner for one is my absolute favorite. I eat alone often and honestly, I kind of love it. Terrible TV, my couch and a bowl of food makes me so, SO happy.

But eating for one can be kind of tricky. Here are a few thoughts:

1. When eating for one, you never want to make anything with too many ingredients. Too many ingredients equals dropping lots of money at the grocery store. There have been times where I went in to buy dinner for myself and left spending $30. I mean, I can just go out to dinner for that much, you know?

2. Dinner for one shouldn’t take a ton of time. I don’t mind spending a little time, or being careful with how I’m preparing something but I just don’t want to be in the kitchen for like 2 hours. No.

Cacio e Pepe is the most idyllic dinner for one.

There are only four (main) ingredients: butter, lots of black pepper, cheese and pasta.

Most super simple dishes are simple and perfect because each ingredient is carefully chosen and the dish is made to a T.

This dish definitely isn’t inexpensive, but good-quality pasta (in my case I used bucatini) and nice Pecorino cheese go a long way. They’re worth a little splurge.

As for making this dish, it only takes about 15-20 minutes. But in those 15 minutes or so, you gotta pay close attention. Good Cacio e Pepe is clump-free, has a smooth butter/cheese sauce that coasts the pasta and is super, super peppery.

This is almost like a grown-up, Italian version of the butter/cheese pasta we ate as kids.

Treat yo’ self!

Cacio e Pepe

 

Cacio e Pepe

Dinner for One: Cacio e Pepe

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5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pasta of choice, spaghetti or bucatini
  • 12-14 black peppercorns
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish

Directions

  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just shy of al dente. (We're going to cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes later.) Reserving 1/4 cup pasta water, drain the pasta in a colander and set both aside.
  • To a medium skillet, toast the peppercorns until they become fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle and crush until coarse. Alternatively, you could transfer the peppercorns to a pepper grinder, OR you could wrap the peppercorns in plastic wrap and crush the heck out of them with the back of a skillet (that isn't hot!).
  • To the same medium skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add a few pinches of pepper, 2 tablespoons pasta water and cheese; stir continuously until the cheese is melted and the sauce starts to come together, about 2 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, add the pasta to the skillet and toss gently in the sauce until evenly coated. The cheese will be slightly clumpy; using a fork, stir the pasta vigorously for an additional minute or so, until the clumsiness disappears. If the pasta is slightly dry, add a teaspoon or two of pasta water until it's the consistency of your liking. Serve immediately and top with a sprinkle more of pepper and a few small (or large!) pinches of cheese.
Serving: 1g
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71 Comments

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  • Reply Teresa January 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    5 stars
    Love, love, love!! I’ve been wanting to make this for sooo long. Finally did and I probably won’t stop! It’s super easy and so tasty and versatile. Last night I made with some roasted butternut squash on top, today for lunch I added arugula when serving. Also, I know this is weird, but I used gruyere cheese also. I didn’t have any percorino and not enough parmesan so I used what I had. It was delicious! Also squeezed a little fresh lemon juice when serving. Too good! Thank you!

  • Reply Amanda November 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    So glad I stumbled upon this and you! This dish sounds amazing and I can’t wait to make it! Also can’t wait to read what other recipes you talk about it!
    Thanks for this yummy idea πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mario May 12, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Butter in the cacio e pepe!!
    You Americans can just spoil everything.

  • Reply Sarah August 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I had just finished a huge slice of chocolate cake (made from scratch) and ice cream before reading this and am stuffed. Now that I have read this I am ready to run into the kitchen and try this delicious sounding recipe right now. Probably a good thing for my stomach that I don’t have all of the ingredients necessary to make the dish. I will definitely have to try this soon. hank you so much for the recipe!

  • Reply molly January 27, 2015 at 10:46 am

    We were in Rome last May, I ate this EVERY night. Loved how different each place we went made their own twist to it. The pasta is so key. I’m so excited to try this.

  • Reply Melia February 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

    I love eating alone too! Obvs not all the time, but particularly on weeknights when I’ve had a DAY at work and just want some quiet time and not have to account to anyone or explain my feelings about my day. My friends think it’s so weird, but I think it’s liberating, especially eating alone in public. So many people won’t do it but I’m just like what’s the big deal? I’m here, by myself, maybe I’m taking myself out because I can!

  • Reply Diane GG July 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    don’t stop with the dinner for one recipes! to many recipes have me up to my eyeballs in Tupperware contained leftovers. I like being a single Lady and its so refreshing to see a recipe that isn’t full of suggestions on what to feed a husband/offspring.
    THANK YOU

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 5, 2013 at 10:02 am

      HAHA! No kids on this blog. Maybe some day but not now. πŸ˜‰ And more recipes for one to come!

  • Reply Jayda @LittleRedPixxxi July 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I recently discovered your blog and have fallen in love with your photographs and writing, last night I made this dish- simple enough for an evening full of laundry and cleaning for a single person. Amazing! My quick comfort food has traditionally been a “birds nest” – orzo, green peas and grated cheese with black pepper, thyme, truffle oil, red pepper and this dish really hit the mark for me. I will definitely be making and sharing this dish. Although I may add red pepper and lemon zest.. and truffle oil πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Nadette@Sin Mayonesa Por Favor February 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    It’s funny, when I lived alone I didn’t mind spending 2 hours for a solo dinner. But now I have roommates…and it’s like lord of the flies competing for kitchen time. And I work crazy stupid hours. This. Is. GENIUS.

  • Reply Rach February 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’m terrible about cooking for one. If it’s just me then I’m usually like “oh look at this nice box of cereal…” haha! πŸ˜‰

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