Spaghetti Caccio e Pepe

This a very ancient traditional pasta cooked by shepherds and is one of the simplest of all pastas. There and many recipes on line but this one, if made as recommended, avoids the parmesan clumping rather than becoming creamy. It is claimed that the starch from the pasta water and cheese aid the cheese to become creamy rather than split and clump. In Italian Caccio means cheese and Pepe means pepper so Caccio e Pepe means cheese and pepper. The technique used in this recipe is credited to Tony Mantuano at where a video can be found.


For 1 Continued...
3 - 5 tbspn olive oil 1 tspn black pepper
100 gm dry spaghetti (see note 1) 30 gm parmesan (see note 2)


Cooking - 10 - 12 min

  1. Heat the oil in a suitable pan (toasting pan) and toast the black pepper over a medium heat for 2 min, then turn off the heat.
  2. After the pepper has been toasted start to boil the pasta in salted water, stirring regularly, for 9 min.
  3. Use a bowl (see note 3) (tossing bowl) large enough to allow easy tossing of the pasta and add about 2 tbspn of olive oil and set aside.
  4. After the pasta has been boiling for 8 min remove about 70 ml of pasta water and add it to the oil/pepper pan (toasting pan).
  5. Tip a little of the pepper/oil/pasta water from the toasting pan into the tossing bowl with its oil.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, reserve some of the pasta water in case it is needed later (unlikely), then drain and add the pasta to the tossing bowl.
  7. Add the rest of the pepper water from the roasting pan to the tossing bowl and stir/toss the pasta well (2 forks are good) to allow the pasta to absorb some of the liquid.
  8. Add half of the parmesan to the tossing bowl and stir/toss well until the parmesan turns creamy and coats the pasta.
  9. Add the rest of the parmesan and continue stirring/tossing until the sauce thickens and becomes even more creamy - although unlikely, some reserved pasta water can be added if needed.


  1. Serve with a grating of parmesan.


(1) The pasta needs to be 'al dente' about 9 min (the recommended packet times are usually too long).
(2) Pecorino Romano is traditionally used but Parmesan, as used here, also works well.
(3) I have more success with a flat bottomed bowl/dish to do stirring/tossing of the pasta - when I used a round bottomed bowl the cheese clumped up.
I'd like to know if you enjoyed this so please email – also feel free to ask for help.
The main ingredients
Enlarge image

The finished meal

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