I’m not trying to get all fancy on you.
Trust me. I’m not an expert on cacio e pepe. I didn’t even know what that meant probably a year ago.
But I’ve been reading about it. It’s a classic recipe from Rome. Cacio e pepe translates to cheese and pepper. And it really is that simple. Pasta with cheese and pepper. Simplicity at its finest.
I have never been to Italy, but from what I read and see, authentic Italian food is truly simplicity at its finest. Few, simple ingredients that go very very well together.
And that’s what appeals to me about cacio e pepe. Cheese is wonderful and so is pepper. This dish brings out the best of both of those flavors.
So, I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong by adding something to this simple, classic pasta dish. I added roasted butternut squash. I thought it sounded good. And it is, it works. I will say though, I am sorry if I am offending any authentic Italian cooks by doing this. This is just my take on it :).
Let’s talk about the butternut squash. I got this one from the garden of Greg’s mom and stepdad. Can’t get better than that. His stepdad, Greg, told me that he was looking for a recipe for butternut squash on my blog. I do have this butternut squash bread pudding recipe, but he was right when he said that that recipe is a bit more complicated. He wanted something simple, and that made me want something more simple, too. Enter: this pasta.
The most difficult part of this dish was cutting the butternut squash. Does anyone out there have a trick to cutting one? If you do, please let me know!
Once it is cut, all you need to do it roast it. While your squash is roasting, you can prepare the pasta. Roast the squash, cook the noodles, add some cheese, pepper and a few other things, toss with the squash and you’re done.
Roasted butternut squash on its own is really good as a side dish or a snack, but in this pasta it is awesome. It turns into a meal.
The key to this pasta is the reserved cooking water. After your noodles are done cooking, make sure you reserve a bowl full of the water. Adding it back into the pasta creates a super creamy sauce without adding any cream. Other than the cheese, pepper and butternut squash, I also added some white wine and a pinch of nutmeg. You can’t go wrong with adding wine to pasta, I think, and I love how nutmeg tastes with butternut squash.
So, you guys, I do hope that you get to try this pasta. It is such a delicious dish, and an easy one to make any day of the week!
- 1 large butternut squash, or 3-4 cups diced butternut squash
- Olive oil
- 1 package spaghetti noodles
- 1/2 cup white wine + a little more
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 - 1 tablespoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400*.
- Start by cutting the butternut squash. Alternatively, you could buy the pre-cut butternut squash. You are looking for a 1/4 inch dice.
- Place the butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle it with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Roast in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned.
- While the butternut squash is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the spaghetti noodles, 1/2 cup white wine and minced garlic clove to the water.
- Boil according to package instructions.
- This is important: make sure to reserve a bowl full of pasta cooking water when you drain the noodles. I placed my strainer on top of a bowl.
- When the noodles and squash are done, place 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot you cooked the noodles in.
- Add about 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper and stir.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the noodles, cheese, 1 cup cooking water, another splash of wine (if desired), a pinch of salt and nutmeg.
- Toss everything together.
- Taste, and add more pepper, cheese, salt, wine, nutmeg, or cooking water, until you reach a taste and texture you are happy with.