If you are looking for a quick, inexpensive, delicious meal, this Cacio e Pepe with Asparagus & Mushrooms recipe is it. In the time it takes to cook the pasta, you can have a flavorful, complete dinner on the table.
Cacio e Pepe literally means “cheese and pepper”. It’s a recipe that originated in Rome, Italy, and still one of their most loved recipes. Did you ever eat spaghetti with nothing but Parmesan on it? I did and loved it! That’s probably why I love this recipe so much. The traditional Cacio e Pepe is made with Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper….that’s it! But, I had asparagus and mushrooms that needed to be used and decided to add them to this recipe. I’m glad I did!
Begin by cooking the pasta according to the time shown on the package directions. When the water comes to a boil, add a handful of salt. It’s impossible to salt pasta after it is cooked and without a lot of salt, the pasta will be bland. Drain the pasta reserving 1 1/2 cups of the boiling pasta water.
In a large saute pan, brown the bacon until crisp. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin strips. Add the asparagus and garlic to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
In a large serving bowl, add the finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Pour one cup of the boiling pasta water over the cheese. The water needs to be very hot in order to thoroughly melt the cheese. Quickly, whisk until the cheese is melted and smooth. If the sauce seems too thick add a little more of the water until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency.
To the serving bowl, add the cooked pasta and toss well to coat all the pasta. Add the cooked vegetables and toss again.
CACIO e PEPE WITH ASPARAGUS & MUSHROOMS
- 1 pound linguini
- 1 1/2 cups Pecorino Romano finely grated
- 2 teaspoons black pepper freshly ground
- 6 slices bacon chopped
- 1/2 pound asparagus shaved
- 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. Place the linguini into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Remove the linguini but retain the boiling water.
- In a large saute pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp.
- Add the mushrooms to the saute pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
- Add the shaved asparagus and garlic to the mushrooms. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain if necessary.
- Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, add the Pecorino Romano, black pepper, and 1 cup of the boiling water. Quickly, stir until a smooth paste is achieved. If the sauce is too thick add additional boiling water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Add the linguini and toss until evenly coated.
- Add the asparagus and mushrooms. Toss to combine.
- Serve with additional cheese and black pepper if desired.
For the traditional Cacio e Pepe, omit the steps for the vegetables. The only ingredients are pasta, cheese, and pepper. You can’t make a dinner that feeds several for much less than this recipe.