I am now, surprisingly, the girl who “just happens to have” fancy cheese in her fridge. But I’ve got a very good reason, and it’s this here recipe. This stuff is golden. You can make this for a dude, for a lady, for your momma, for your sister, your uncle, your cousins – this stuff is untouchable.
And the dish only has five ingredients. God, I love Italy. I’ve adapted my recipe from the stunning New York Times version for larger crowds. (It’s the perfect amount for a date if you want a little left for later, too!)
The key here is to pillage your local fancy food store cheese-ends buckets. If you ever loiter around the fancy cheese area in a Whole Foods or similar market, you’ll notice a magical little bin with lots of little odds and ends of cheese inside. This is heaven. Welcome. I almost exclusively buy cheese from these bins, unless I want to really splurge on some fancy cheese (read: always buy the full wheel of Brie). Thus, all of my measurements are imperfect, as the cheese bin is imperfect and you never know what will turn up from week to week.
Also, a PSA: Buy good olive oil. I mean, have cheap oil around for frying and cooking and general stuff. But when you want to venerate your ingredients, or there aren’t much of them, you’ll taste bad olive oil. Trust me. This is my favorite.
1 palm-sized wedge of Pecorino-Romano, finely grated
1 half-palm-sized wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Ground black pepper (fresh is nice, but not necessary)
1 cup spaghetti/linguine/tonnarelli/long, thick, flour-based noodz
Really good olive oil
- Heavily salt enough water to boil one cup of noodles. (I do three cups of water, just in case.) Bring to a boil.
- While waiting for it to boil, grate your cheeses. The important thing is to keep it a 2:1 ratio of Pecorino to Parmigiano. Add your pepper to the grated cheeses, and mix.
- Once you’ve finished mixing the cheeses and pepper, add a splash of cold water, only as much as you need (and you can always add more but you can never take any out!) and make a rough paste with the cheese around the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- When rapidly boiling, add noodles to cook just until al dente, if a little before. Then quickly drain the noodles, but not all the way. Save some of that cooking water just in case you need it.
- Add the hot noodles to the bowl with the packed cheese paste, and stir it around until it all breaks into a nice creamy sauce – not watery, but not chunky either. Add pasta water as needed, and tip in just a few turns of olive oil. Add pepper to taste.
Hope you like it! I added cherry tomatoes for color to mine, above, and topped with a little too much extra Parmigiano. What’s life if you don’t live it all the way?
I love cheese. I love this recipe. Hope you love it too.