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  • The Chopping Blog

Pasta Doesn't Always Have to Be Perfect

Andrea
Posted by Andrea on May 5, 2020

There's nothing more comforting right now than a big plate of pasta. That's why we chose Cacio e Pepe, the popular pasta dish which means "cheese and pepper" in Italian, for our first Cook Along virtual class last week. 

In our Cook Along virtual classes, you cook in real time along with the chef in your own kitchen to make a meal. We send you the recipes, an equipment list and any advance prep that needs to be done before the class starts. We've gotten some great feedback from students in the first class. They learned how to make Cacio e Pepe (recipe below) and a classic Italian vinaigrette to dress their salad of choice. The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young gave lots of tips on how to crush peppercorns and cook dried pasta. Here are some comments from the students' feedback:

"We learned how to make pasta. I know that sounds stupid, but there were a lot of tricks (salt, use pasta water, al dente) that aren't on the spaghetti box. I've heard of all of them, but now I know how to use them!"

"The crushing peppercorns trick was neat - I only have one grinder and I usually keep white pepper in it so I was excited to see a new method for that. I also loved the pasta cooking in the more shallow pan tip."

Another mind blowing moment in the class was when Shelley told the students that you don't always have to cook pasta in boiling water, despite what we've always been taught. Here's a clip from the class:

There were some funny moments during the class such as when Shelley used the whole packet of pasta instead of following the recipe for just a portion of it. The students called her out for it, but that just meant there was more Cacio e Pepe for her and her wife! If you missed out on the class, we're sharing the recipe here so you can make this dish during your quarantine cooking.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe 

Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 20 minutes

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces dried spaghetti
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup romano cheese, finely grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil. Spread out on a sheet tray, and bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Boil the pasta until it's about two minutes from being perfectly al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once melted, add the olive oil and black pepper and cook, swirling the pan, for about 1 minute. Set aside.

5. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Add the pasta and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

6. Reduce the heat to low and add the parmesan, stirring and tossing until melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the romano, stirring again until the cheese melts and the sauce coats the pasta.

7. Add a splash more pasta water if the sauce seems too dry.

8. Transfer the pasta to warm bowls, top with a fresh grinding of pepper, and garnish with a sprinkling of the breadcrumbs. 

This is a simple yet tasty dish so I urge you all to give it a try. I also totally understand when you've had a tough day and sometimes this is all you can muster as your pasta inspiration.

pasta & sauce

This was my day yesterday and while some might balk at the simplicity of this dish coming out of my kitchen, it was what needed to happen in order to get dinner on the table last night. With a dusting of Parmesan cheese and a little chiffonade of basil from the garden and served with a salad with homemade lemon smoky paprika vinaigrette, I don't think anyone would have turned down this pasta meal.

plated pasta & salad

This week, we've challenged our private Facebook group members to make a pasta dish and share their pics and recipes with other home cooks. 

Pasta Challenge

Now this challenge is for all skill levels and it's your choice whether to rip open a box of dried pasta or try your hand at fresh pasta. Member Kim Soo did that yesterday and impressed us all with this:

fresh pasta

Don't be intimidated by this! Our group is a place for all home cooks to share their experiences especially during these quarantine days when we are all cooking at home more. 

Join our Facebook Group

If the idea of cooking along with a chef at home sounds fun to you, join us for this Thursday's Cook Along class with Shelley as she shows you how to make homemade flour tortillas and turn them into burritos for dinner.

tortillas

Thursday, May 7, 2020

5pm CST

VIRTUAL COOK ALONG

 

Register now

 

 

Yield: 4-6 servings
Author:
Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

Prep time: 20 MCook time: 20 MTotal time: 40 M

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup romano cheese, finely grated

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil. Spread out on a sheet tray, and bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Boil the pasta until it's about two minutes from being perfectly al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once melted, add the olive oil and black pepper and cook, swirling the pan, for about 1 minute. Set aside.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Add the pasta and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the parmesan, stirring and tossing until melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the romano, stirring again until the cheese melts and the sauce coats the pasta.
  7. Add a splash more pasta water if the sauce seems too dry.
  8. Transfer the pasta to warm bowls, top with a fresh grinding of pepper, and garnish with a sprinkling of the breadcrumbs.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Topics: pasta, Recipes, cacio e pepe

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