Three-Pepper Cacio e Pepe

, from Issue #85. July, 2019
Photography by Kate Battersby.
Three-Pepper Cacio e Pepe

This is not a traditional cacio e pepe, but the three peppers and hint of garlic make for a nice spicy twist on a Roman classic. If your sauce splits, it’ll still taste delicious so have a glass of wine and plan to have another go next week.

Serves: 2


250 grams dried thick spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
80 grams pecorino, finely grated
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
To serve
finely grated pecorino
cracked black pepper
cayenne pepper (optional)


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over a high heat. Add the dried spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than packet instructions, until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a low heat. Add the black pepper, white pepper and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Once the pasta is cooked, remove the saucepan from heat. Use tongs to remove the pasta from the water, and add to the sauté pan with the pepper mixture with 6 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Stir to combine then leave to sit for 1 minute to cool slightly. It is important to leave the pasta to cool at this point as if it is too hot, the cheese will split.

Sprinkle the pecorino and cayenne pepper over the spaghetti. Use a large wooden spoon to swiftly swirl the pasta, cheese and cooking water together until a silky sauce forms. You may need to add another tablespoon of cooking water to loosen.

Serve immediately into warm bowls – warm bowls prevent cheese clumps forming – and sprinkle with more pecorino, a grind of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra kick, if desired.