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Pasta cacio e pepe vegan. Is that even possible? Yes! And the result is an irresistible, creamy, peppery, and cheesy pasta dish that you can cook in just about 10 minutes. In the last couple of years, vegan cheese has become a strong valid substitute for regular cheese, in both texture and flavour. Try, and let us know what you think!
If you are interested in learning about the history (and humble roots) of Cacio e Pepe, have a look at the background story here.
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Cacio e Pepe
- 300 grams (10.6 oz) spaghetti bronze cut
- 150 grams (5.3 oz) vegan cheese we use one that is suitable for melting and is made mainly from almonds
- 1 tablespoon black pepper corns you can use more or less based on your taste preference
- 3 litres (0.8 gal) water to cook the pasta
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt to salt the pasta water
- 1 pinch salt if your vegan cheese is not salty enough
- BEFORE YOU START: if your vegan cheese is grated coarsly we recommend to blitz it up in a blender to make it finer, looking like grated parmesan cheese.
- In a large pot, put the water to boil. Then on a pan on medium heat, toast the black pepper corns without any liquid. Just the pepper corns. Move them around the pan for about 3 minutes, or until you can smell the pepper aroma.
- Then put the in a mortar, and crush them into dust. If you don't have a mortar, put them on your cutting board and crush them applying pressure with the bottom of a pan.
- The pasta water should now be boiling. Salt it with the corase sea salt, then put in the pasta and let cook for 4 minutes less than indicated on the pasta package. If the pasta package says 12 minute, then you cook it for 8. We finish cooking the pasta witht the cheese sauce, so that it will release starch in it, making the sauce even creamier.
- In a large pan, add the vegan cheese and 2 ladles of the pasta cooking water. Melt the cheese on low heat, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon. After a minute or so, your vegan cheese should be completely melted.
- Now add the crushed pepper to the cheese. Keep stirring on low heat for another minute. Then turn off the heat, but keep stirring occasionally, we don't want the cheese to become too dense. If necessay, add an extra dash of pasta cooking water to keep the cheese to a creamy consistency.
- When the pasta is ready, take it out of the water and put it in the pan with the cheese sauce. Make sure to save the pasta water, as we need it to finish cooking the pasta.
- Add 1 ladle of pasta water to the pan, then on medium to low heat, finish cooking the pasta with the cheese sauce, until the pasta is al dente - that is, cooked but with a bite to it. Add more pasta water if the sauce becomes too thick.
- Your pasta should now be completely coated in the cheese sauce, and it's ready to be portioned.
- Serve in little swirls on a plate, and drizzle with some extra cheese sauce on top, and a sprinkle of the ground black pepper.
- Use spaghetti for cacio e pepe. It's the best shape for it hands down! Better if bronze cut, so that their rugged surface will help the sauce stick to them.
- Undercook the pasta by 4 minutes. We do this because we want to finish cooking the spaghetti in the pan with the cheese. This way, the pasta will release starch into the sauce, making it extra creamy.
- Melt the vegan cheese with the pasta cooking water so that the salt in the pasta water will add some sapidity to the vegan cheese. Vegan cheese is generally less salty than regular Italian parmesan or pecorino, so we need the extra help of the salt in the cooking water to add saltiness.
- Toast the black pepper whole. In asian cooking people do this all the time. They toast their spices, whole, before grinding them and using them to flavour their curries. Here we apply the same technique to make our pepper extra aromatic. Warm it up on a pan without any liquid to warm up its oils and release all its aroma.
- Save the pasta water when draining the pasta. Pasta water is full of starch and it will make our sauce creamier.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe don't store well, since the spaghetti and cheese is mixed together, and the past will overcook if reheated.
Keep it for max 12 hours in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat on a pan with some water for about 1 minute, and add a pinch of freshly ground pepper.
Cacio e Pepe should be reheated only once, or else will turn into a mushy consistency.
If you liked our Spaghetti cacio e pepe, you might also like these 6 delicious Italian Pastas dishes:
1. Vegan Pasta with Chestnut Pesto: a spaghetti dish with 3 iconic Italian ingredients: la castagna (chestnut), la nocciola (hazelnut), and bronze cut spaghetti. It's cozy, creamy, cheesy, and earthy. What do you think?
2. Penne all'arrabbiata: penne all'arrabbiata is one of the most popular pasta dishes of Italy. It's simple, yet delicious, and naturally vegan, made only with a few healthy ingredients.
3. Pasta Aglio e Olio: simple and yet so fulfilling and delicious. It brings to together the main elements of Italian cuisine: simplicity, creativity and comfort. No one can resist this.
4. Pasta al Pomodoro: a traditional Italian recipe made with easy-to-find and simple ingredients. It becomes a creamy spaghetti dish, full of umami, when we mix the pasta with a hearty tomato sauce with notes of garlic and fresh basil.
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Will you be cooking this dish at home?
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