Wow – that’s a long title for a recipe! I even left out the word “salad” after pasta. Although I developed the recipe as a pasta salad, the second time I made it I thought it would be delicious, if not better served hot as well. A flexible recipe is always a good thing. Plus, I read an article that suggested how you word a food item in a restaurant can completely dictate its attraction to diners so I figure a few Italian words in a recipe title make it sound appealing!
I am spending some time in Rhode Island right now. When I am not in my home kitchen, I often like to wing it when planning meals and cooking. Not having all my favorite equipment at my disposal or every last ingredient in my pantry proves to be a fun challenge for me, most of the time.
Stopping at the farm stands, seeing what is fresh and planning a menu around the seasonal bounty is one of the many things that I love about living in New England, especially at this time of year.
Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish that combines ingredients that most members of my family love. Pasta, freshly grated Pecorino cheese and cracked black pepper are tossed in olive oil resulting in a luxuriously rich pasta dish.
I was reading through a cookbook recently that had a recipe for a Cacio e Pepe butter that was made into a log and meant to be used as a topping for pasta, filet mignon or even an omelet. The chef combined the butter in another recipe for a spaghetti with guanciale that was to be served warm.
It got me thinking about the flavor combination and how it could work for a room temperature pasta as well. But, what to put in it? I wasn’t willing to go much further than the farm stand for my produce and thankfully I found the most beautiful sugar snap peas and some lovely, thin and tender zucchini…
I set out to build a pasta salad to bring to a lobster dinner that we enjoyed last Sunday with my husband’s family. I tested the recipe again later this week to bring to another family dinner (my side!). It got positive reviews so I am hoping that this is a dish you can make and share sometime soon.
As always, please read through the recipe as there are some steps that are important to insuring you have a moist dish when you are ready to serve.
If you make it, please do come back and leave me a comment letting me know what you think!
PS – I recently updated my computer so I am getting used to new editing tools for my photos. It is still a work in progress!
PPS – There will not be a post next week as we get ready to send our older daughter off to start her life on the other coast. See you July 28th.
Slice the sugar snap peas on the diagonal, yielding nice slivers…
If you have sensitive palates to feed, you may want to cut back just a bit on the pepper. But for me, a cheesy, peppery, veggie pasta is just the best! I used Campanelle (bell shaped) pasta which is fabulous for a pasta salad especially. Other short pastas should work just fine as well…
This pasta combines the peppery bite of freshly toasted black peppercorns with the salty creaminess created by the marriage of two cheeses with extra virgin olive oil and some reserved pasta water. It would be delicious served fresh from the stove, although I originally created the recipe to be served as a pasta salad. To serve as a salad, it will just need a little last minute TLC as described below. If you can find the Campanelle pasta, it makes for a pretty salad, but feel free to substitute other short pastas such as Fusilli.
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 slender zucchini (1 pound total), sliced in 4 lengthwise and then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Tablespoons black peppercorns (you can cut this back for sensitive palates)
- 1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into thin slivers
- 1 pound Campanelle pasta (or other short pasta such as fusilli)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium saute pan, warm 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and give it a quick stir for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and toss to coat with the shallot mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally until just softened, about 5-6 minutes. You don't want the zucchini to get mushy. Remove the mixture to a bowl large enough for the cooked pasta too.
- Wipe out the pan and add the peppercorns over a low heat. Stir for a minute or two until you can smell the pepper starting to toast. Remove the peppercorns to a spice grinder or a small cuisinart and pulse until coarse. You can also do this by placing them in a plastic bag (once cooled) and crushing them with a heavy pan or rolling pin.
- In the meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a good sprinkle of kosher salt and the Campanelle. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente, adding the sugar snap peas during the last minute of cooking.
- Before draining the pasta, remove about a cup of the pasta water in a coffee cup and reserve.
- Drain the pasta and snap peas and add directly to the bowl with the zucchini. Add the two cheeses, the peppercorns and a big drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to moisten all the noodles. Toss really well until the cheese has melted. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and toss again. You want the pasta to have a nice creamy texture. Taste and add the salt according to taste. Toss again.
- To eat warm, serve the pasta immediately.
- If serving as a room temperature pasta salad, allow the pasta to cool and use the reserved pasta water to loosen up the pasta prior to serving. Add just a little bit (1/4 cup at a time) and toss so that the pasta retains its moisture and has a nice creamy consistency.
One Year Ago: Zucchini Noodle Caprese Salad (A light and summery lunch or dinner)
Two Years Ago: L.A. Story Part One (restaurants, hotels, etc.)
Three Years Ago: Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs & Cheese (perfect for a GNO or to snack on)