Pici Cacio e Pepe

The first time I tried cacio e pepe in a restaurant, I couldn’t believe that a handful of simple ingredients had created something THAT delicious. Silky, and super cheesy with a hint of heat from the pepper - it’s a little like an elevated mac and cheese! This is a labour of love but in a good way. I’ve gone all out with handmade pici pasta (which is a bit like thick spaghetti) and I think it’s worth it (you just need a handful of ingredients and no special equipment machine). But you can make the recipe with dried pasta of your choice - spaghetti or tagliatelle are good options. Make sure your cheese is grated VERY finely for the best results. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a partner, Galentine’s Day with girlfriends or just after a fun weekend activity the kids can get involved in, this gorgeous pici cacio e pepe is a fab one to try.


Based on 2 servings, adjust as needed.

Step 1

Add the flour, olive oil, a pinch of salt and 95g of warm water (for 2 portions) to a mixing bowl. Use a fork to mix the ingredients, until a crumbly dough starts to form. At this point, go in with your hands and start to knead the dough together. Do this for a minute or two, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Continue to knead the dough, until it’s soft, smooth and not sticky. Wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

Step 2

Slice the dough into quarters, and working with one quarter at a time (cover the rest of the dough while you’re not using it), use your hands (or a rolling pin) to roll it out into a rough rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. It’s important to not use flour on your surface when you’re doing this, as this will make it very hard to roll the pici strands. Cut the rectangle into long strips, roughly ½ an inch wide.

Step 3

Use your hands to roll out each strip into a long snake, a little bit thinner than a pencil (the pici will swell up in the water so you don’t want them too thick at this stage). Dust the finished pici in a little flour and place on a baking paper-lined tray as you continue with the rest of the dough. If you’re having trouble rolling the pici, cover the dough and let it rest for another 10 minutes, and try again.

Step 4

Melt the butter in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium heat, then add a good grind of black pepper and the crushed pink peppercorns. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat off.

Step 5

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a big pinch of salt. At this point, make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go as the pasta comes together very quickly. At the pici to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes (if you’re using dried pasta, cook according to the packet instructions).

Step 6

Once your pasta is almost cooked, transfer about ¼ cup of pasta cooking water to the pan with the butter and pepper, turn the heat to low and whisk VIGOROUSLY to create an emulsified sauce. You’ll want to essentially shake the pan with one hand while whisking with the other - it will end up looking like a more opaque, glossy sauce. Repeat with another splash of pasta water, then let it simmer for a minute or two as it thickens up.

Step 7

Once your pasta is cooked, use tongs to transfer it straight into the pan with the sauce (don’t worry if more pasta water goes in too). Try to arrange the pasta on an even layer in the pan, if you can. Turn the heat RIGHT down, and scatter the grated pecorino all over the pasta, as evenly as possible. Leave it there for about 30 seconds so it starts to melt from the residual heat on the pasta. This is key for creating a silky smooth sauce.

Step 8

Once it’s started to melt, use the tongs to toss the pasta vigorously again, until you have a lovely thick, emulsified cheesy, peppery sauce. If it’s a bit thick, you can add a splash more pasta water. Divide between plates, then scatter over more pink peppercorns to serve, and enjoy right away.

  • Ingredients
  • Based on 2 servings
  • 70g Butter, cubed 1x Sainsbury's British Butter, Unsalted 250g
  • 200g Plain Flour 1x Sainsbury's Plain Flour 500g
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper 1x Sainsbury's Coarse Ground Black Pepper 45g
  • 1 tsp Pink Peppercorns, lightly crushed, plus more to serve 1x Sainsbury's Pink Peppercorns 24g
  • 70g Pecorino, or hard Italian style cheese, very finely grated 1x Sainsbury's Pecorino Romano Cheese 170g
  • 0.5 tbsp Olive Oil 1x Sainsbury's Olive Oil 500ml
  • Maldon Salt, to taste 1x Maldon Sea Salt Flakes 250g
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