Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cacio e Pepe with Spinach and White Beans

Cacio e pepe is a very simple, traditional Italian pasta dish.  The main ingredients (apart from the pasta) are cheese and black pepper.  But it's not completely smothered in those key ingredients - there is a delicate balance involved.   The traditional cheese of choice is pecorino romano, but I used parmesan and it came out pretty amazing. 

We all know you shouldn't make an entire meal out of pasta, butter, and cheese, though, right?  So along comes a simple and delicious side dish of wilted spinach and white beans.  This is simple home cooking at its best.  It's so easy and only takes about 15 minutes to make, but you feel remarkably satisfied afterward.  The definitive weeknight recipe.

Cacio e Pepe with Spinach and White Beans
adapted from Rachael Ray's Book of 10
serves 2


1/3 pound whole wheat linguine
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper, plus more to taste
salt to taste
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
3 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
pinch freshly grated nutmeg


1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  Save about 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking liquid before draining the pasta.  Drain.

2.  While pasta is cooking, heat the butter, one teaspoon of oil, and black pepper in a large skillet over low heat.  Let it hang out while the pasta is cooking.  When pasta is done, add the starchy cooking liquid to the butter mixture, followed by the cooked pasta.  Toss it all together with tongs.  Stir in the cheese until melted, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

3.  While steps one and two are underway, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and spinach, and stir gently until the spinach wilts and beans are cooked through.  Season with nutmeg and salt. 

4.  Serve the pasta with the spinach and white beans on the side. 


1 comment:

  1. Another winner! I love that you so often utilize nutmeg and cinnamon in such unusual ways ...... delicious.