Cacio e Pepe, literally “cheese and pepper,” is a classic Roman pasta, which as the name implies involves tossing pasta with cheese and pepper. It can be made with any long thin pasta, but today I decided to make use of spaghetti squash to do a gluten-free version.
Spaghetti squash, in case you are not familiar with it, is a large yellow squash that has flesh that shreds into long thin strands when cooked, and looks a bit like bavette. It doesn’t exactly have the texture or taste of pasta, but when tossed with Parmesan, pecorino and butter, it makes for a delicious vegetable side, that’s fun to eat.
It does take a bit longer to prepare than the original since you have to roast the squash first, but if you already have the oven going, this makes for the perfect side to a roast pork loin or crispy-skinned roast chicken.
In the unlikely event that you do end up with some leftovers, try pressing them into a flat pan and then slice and flour the pieces before pan-frying to make some delicious cheesy spaghetti squash fritters.
Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe
- 3.75 pound spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated on a microplane)
- 0.5 ounce Pecorino Romano (grated on a microplane)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 0.1 ounce black pepper (~1/2 tablespoon, freshly ground)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Slice the spaghetti squash in half and then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pith from center of the squash.
- Split 1 tablespoon of olive oil between the two halves, pouring most of it on the cut edges and spreading it around.
- Place the squash cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet and then put the sheet pan in the oven. Bake until the squash is tender, about 1 hour.
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a bowl and let it come to room temperature while the squash bakes.
- When the squash is done, let it cool enough to handle, but is still hot. Use a fork to shred the squash into long strands from side to side.
- Toss the squash with the butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper until it is evenly coated. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.