Let's be clear: I am Italian and finding out you are coeliac at the age of 27, questions all your previous diet standards.
Can you imagine how hard did it feel accepting the news I was never going to eat my beloved pasta again?
I didn't know there were some great pasta made with quinoa, corn, rice and other kind of flour, till I actually had to look for them.
That's when I thought: past is past, but pasta is still present!
One of my favourite recipes within the Italian culinary tradition is definitely
Spaghetti cacio e pepe. Why? Because I love cheese and I love challen...cheese!
Indeed, it's not really easy to cook the perfect Cacio e Pepe. It takes a lot of patience to bring the taste of Rome to your table, hence why I am going to share my recipe and disclose the secret to making the perfect cream!
So, to cook 1 portion of spaghetti cacio & pepe, the first thing you need to do is to boil half a pot of salted water. Not the full pot, to allow a better concentration of starch.
Then, you can put in the pot 100 grams of spaghetti when the water is boiling!
Watch and push the spaghetti inside the water with tongs.
In the meantime, you can crumble two spoons of black pepper with a meat tenderiser or a grinder. You take half of the minced pepper and you toast it in a pan.
Keep a close eye on them and don't forget to smell the fragrance. Then, blend the pepper in the pan with some boiling water from the pasta pot.
By now, your pasta should be ready to be drained, but don't throw all the water away. Note that gluten free pasta is a milady: she likes to cook longer than gluten pasta but, if you forget about her, she is not going to give you the al dente effect you need for a perfect cacio e pepe.
My suggestion is to take it off the water when half cooked, it will then finish cooking in the pan.
When the pasta is in the pan with the toasted pepper, keep adding water and make the pasta breathe using tongs.
Now, is the moment to take care of the cheese. You need some Pecorino Romano dop to follow the tradition: 200 grams in this case.
Use 100 grams of grated Pecorino cheese in a bowl and add a little bit of the pasta water you saved (because you saved it, right?). Slowly add the rest of the grated cheese keeping 50 grams for later.
It is crucial to balance the quantity of water and cheese during this step, in order to have the ideal cream.
The pasta should be cooked by now and you can turn off the stove under the pan.
It is important that the cream in the bowl has the same temperature of the pasta, so keep it worm!
Add the cream in the pasta and mix them together using tongs. Do not worry if it's too creamy, the rest of the minced Pecorino will make the magic!
The secret is: never stop to stir the pasta!
Stir-fry the spaghetti two or three times and then plate it straight away!
Do you remember the rest of the pepper you saved? It came the moment to put it on top of your pasta...
In case you were wondering if you cooked the perfect cacio e pepe, the result, should be roughly like the image on the left!
Follow @theglutenfreelancer on Instagram to watch live some great food stories!