The predecessor of mac and cheese as we know it now, this Roman dish is made with pasta, cheese and pepper. The secret is using the starchy pasta's cooking water to create a creamy sauce that coats each strand. The result is perhaps the ultimate 3-ingredient pasta ever.
- 10 quarts water
- 3 ounces linguine pasta, dried (85 grams)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground coarse black pepper (10 grams or 30 turns from a pepper mill)
- Olive oil
- 4 tablespoons Pecorino cheese, finely grated (60 grams)
Bring 10 quarts of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Cook the pasta for 7 minutes to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, toast the black pepper in oil in a large sauté pan until fragrant.
Ladle 4 ounces (two small ladles) of pasta water into the pan.
Keep the heat off until the pasta is done.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauté pan.
Turn the heat on medium high and slowly sprinkle in the Pecorino.
Toss the pasta while you add the cheese to emulsify. Once all of the cheese is added, adjust your sauce with some more pasta water so it's not too thick.
Serve immediately, topped with more freshly grated cheese and a few cracks of pepper.