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Credit: Paola & Murray

Recipe Summary test

active:
1 hr
total:
2 hrs 15 mins
Yield:
Serves 6 as a main course, 12 as a first course or side
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It's hard to imagine visiting Rome without feasting on a bowl of cacio e pepe, one of the city's pillars of pasta. Translating to "cheese and pepper," story has it this classic Italian recipe was the meal of shepherds. It's traditionally made with tonnarelli or spaghetti and no dairy other than Pecorino Romano. Our take on the ancient dish was inspired by the cacio e pepe lasagna created by Rita Sodi, chef-owner of New York–based Italian restaurant I Sodi, which blew up on Insta last winter. It encapsulates the cheesy, peppery goodness in pillowy soft rolls. Buon appetito!

This recipe originally appeared in our Fall 2021 issue. Get the magazine here

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the milk, garlic, and black pepper. Whisk to combine and infuse the milk, whisking occasionally, until it's warm and steaming but not boiling, about 10 minutes.

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  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter until sizzling over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking to avoid any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove and discard garlic. Whisk in the Pecorino Romano and salt until cheese has melted. Transfer to a medium bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface of sauce; refrigerate until completely cooled. (It will thicken as it cools.)

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 4-quart baking dish. Ladle about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the dish, spreading to create an even layer. Lay 2 half sheets of pasta together, overlapping slightly, to create one long vertical strip. Spread about 2 tbsp. of cooled sauce on the strip, then sprinkle with 2 tbsp. mozzarella. Gently roll up both pasta sheets into a tight spiral and place the roll, seam-side down, in the prepared dish. Repeat the process with the remaining pasta sheets. Top the rolls with the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Garnish with additional grated Pecorino Romano and more cracked black pepper.

  • Cover the baking dish with parchment paper and then cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil and parchment paper and increase the oven temperature to 400°; bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Tips

*Traditional dried lasagna noodles can be substituted for fresh pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add noodles and cook until al dente and pliable, 6 to 8 minutes.These noodles are slightly smaller than the fresh sheets but they have a similar length. Since the pasta will already be al dente before baking, reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes (don't increase heat to 400°; just finish under the broiler until the top is browned, 4 to 7 minutes).

Simple Supper

Traditional cacio e pepe comes together with just 3 ingredients.

Pecorino Romano: The aged sharp cheese, combined with a few scoops of pasta cooking water, forms the creamiest sauce.

Black Pepper: Freshly cracked is key here—and don't be shy about using it.

Pasta: Tonnarelli, a long noodle made with eggs, is classic, but spaghetti is perfectly fine.

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