Spinach Cacio e Pepe is basically a grown-up version of mac and cheese! Experience the mouthwatering flavors of Rome in less than 30 minutes.
This is not a Cacio e Pepe recipe for the purists. I’ll start with that disclaimer right off the bat.
It’s a little bit healthier, but still incredibly easy and delicious, so I hope that makes up for the few liberties I couldn’t help but take with the recipe.
Cacio e Pepe (Cacio = Cheese. Pepe = Pepper.) is a modern Roman dish with only three ingredients: pasta, pecorino cheese, and black pepper.
I’m still working on being that much of a minimalist. Okay?
In all honesty, I’m a sucker for cheesy pasta with lots of green veggies, so I fully support the addition of a few generous handfuls of spinach and a cup of green peas from the freezer.
Plus a few cloves of garlic.
I mean, come on. What’s pasta without a little garlic?
I’m still sticking with the minimalist origins of Cacio e Pepe as best as I can.
There are still less than 10 ingredients and you can easily prep and cook the whole thing in 30 minutes.
It’s the best thing to make when there isn’t much in the fridge but you’re in the mood for comfort food and want to make use of what you already have.
How to Make Spinach Cacio e Pepe:
All good pasta starts with a pot of boiling salted water. Don’t skip that step!
The cooking liquid, in this case, is also used in the sauce that coats the pasta, so make sure you reserve a cup (or more) before you drain the noodles from the pot.
To make the sauce, stir olive oil, garlic, and a hefty amount of black pepper in a skillet. The black pepper gives this pasta a good amount of spicy flavor, which I love, but you can always cut the amount in half if you prefer something milder.
After you heat up the garlic and pepper, stir in the pasta, spinach, peas, and some of the cooking water. Then stir in the cheese and toss until the pasta is fully coated in peppery sauce.
You can always add more of the pasta cooking water if it seems too dry.
As always, try to taste and adjust as you go!
- 8 ounces bucatini pasta or long pasta of choice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 large cloves)
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (see note)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (see note)
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in bucatini pasta and cook 6 minutes, or until 2 minutes before al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and set aside.
- Stir olive oil, garlic, and black pepper in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in cooked pasta, baby spinach, frozen green peas, and ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook 2 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Add pecorino romano and parmesan cheese and stir until pasta is coated in sauce. If it seems too dry, gradually stir in more pasta cooking water as needed.
- Transfer to pasta bowls and garnish with additional grated cheese and cracked black pepper if desired.
If romano cheese isn’t available, substitute with additional grated parmesan. You can also use all parmesan cheese to give the dish a less sharp, milder flavor.
Use ½ teaspoon black pepper (instead of a full teaspoon) for a milder flavor if desired.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit.
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