The Washington Post

Cacio e Pepe Alla Colu

Cacio e Pepe Alla Colu 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

May 7, 2018

This Roman classic is traditionally made with just three ingredients: spaghetti, pecorino Romano and black pepper -- lots of it. Cookbook author Colu Henry adds butter to help emulsify the cheesy sauce.

To read the accompanying story, see: 4 weeknight pastas that are on the table in the time it takes to boil water.

Make Ahead: The pasta can be refrigerated for 3 or 4 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • Salt
  • 12 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt it generously.

Add the spaghetti; reduce the heat to medium-high and cook according to the package directions (for al dente).

When the pasta is about halfway done cooking, start the sauce: Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper and stir for about 2 minutes, until it is aromatic. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking water directly from the pasta pot; once the mixture is bubbling, cook for 1 minute, stirring, to form a well-blended (emulsified) sauce.

Drain the pasta, reserving another 1/2 cup of its cooking water.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the cooked spaghetti and the cheese directly to the skillet, tossing vigorously until evenly coated and the cheese has melted. Add the 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water; cook for 1 minute more.

Divide among individual bowls or plates; serve with additional cheese and pepper.

Recipe Source

Adapted from Henry’s “Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly” (Clarkson Potter, 2017).

Tested by Domenica Marchetti.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using 1 teaspoon salt): 520

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 19g 29%

Saturated Fat: 11g 55%

Cholesterol: 50mg 17%

Sodium: 890mg 37%

Total Carbohydrates: 64g 21%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 19g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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