Cacio e Pepe

I'm currently watching The Shawshank Redemption on Netflix while I put together this blog post. My crush on Tim Robbins has been reignited. This movie makes me really happy because it's so good and ultimately, Andy and Red end up free in Mexico (if you think that's a spoiler, it's because you haven't seen the movie and sorry, that makes you a loser) and I hope to also someday come into a great sum of money (hopefully without enduring a stint in prison) only to end up living on the beach, hanging out all day with my best friend.

Anyway, I'll move onto today's recipe. It's an awesomely simple pasta dish and it's one that I've unknowingly been making since I was allowed to use the kitchen on my own (which was probably around age 12). As a kid, I would just boil some noodles, toss them in butter, sprinkle in parmesan (from a green can), and shake on some crushed red pepper flakes. So, not exactly as sophisticated as cacio e pepe, but a pretty decent teenage version, right? My parents made pasta for dinner all the time, but it was always with a red sauce and though I do like a good red sauce, I also love naked noodles. Since no one else really enjoyed the naked noodles, I would just make this snack for myself.

These days, I make whatever I want all the time and I thought I would share the upgrade version of my naked noodle dish from my pre-teen years.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb. pasta
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups grated asiago (or parmesan or pecorino)
2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

Start by getting a big pot of water on to boil. Salt generously and then throw in the pasta. Cook until al dente. Before you drain the noodles, reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is going, grab a big bowl and add in the cheese, pepper, and butter. Pile the drained noodles into the bowl and toss quickly to toss in the cheese and get it melting.
Slowly drizzle in the reserved pasta water, tossing the noodles continuously, until the noodles glisten and a creamy sauce forms.
Garnish with more pepper and then serve immediately.
I served the pasta with an awesome ribeye steak, grilled onions, roasted broccoli, and a simple arugula salad. Because cacio e pepe is like a sophisticated, really quick macaroni & cheese, it's really good with steak. The noodles are chewy, the cheese is punchy and salty, and the pepper adds a nice balance and spice. It's the perfect naked noodle dish.
Here's the recipe page: