David Malosh
Recipe

Cacio e Pepe with Lemon

Prep: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves 2

Directions

  • 1Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than called for in package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
  • 2Transfer pasta to a 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick). Add butter and 1/2 cup pasta water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. The heat helps the starch in the water meld with the fat from the butter, which prevents the Grana Padano from becoming stringy in the finished dish.
  • 3Reduce heat to low, and mix in Grana Padano and cracked pepper. Grana Padano is softer than Pecorino Romano; it will melt into the buttery water, creating a sauce as the pasta finishes cooking.
  • 4Toss pasta with tongs to thoroughly coat it with sauce. Keep everything at a gentle simmer just until cheese melts and sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.
  • 5Remove from heat, then stir in Pecorino Romano. (Always add Pecorino off direct heat; it clumps when cooked.) Zest lemon over the pasta. Any type of lemon will do, but a Meyer is particularly nice in this dish: It’s sweeter in flavor and aroma, with back notes of orange and lime. At this time of year, you’ll find Meyer lemons at specialty-food stores and some supermarkets.
  • 6If pasta looks dry, toss it with a bit more pasta water until it has a glossy coating. Divide between 2 warm bowls. Drizzle each with oil and lemon juice, and garnish with more cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt
  • 8 ounces thick spaghetti or bucatini
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, softened
  • 3 ounces Grana Padano cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper (use a mortar and pestle or the coarsest setting on a grinder), plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
  • 1 small lemon (preferably Meyer)
  • High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

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