Cacio e pepe, meaning “cheese and pepper” in Italian, finds its origins in Rome. The sauce is simple—salty Pecorino Romano cheese, spicy black pepper and some of the starchy pasta cooking water—so it's important to source the best ingredients you can. The key here is to work quickly once the pasta is cooked, so make sure you have your cheese grated and your pepper ground before the pasta is done.
Recipe by Asha Loupy
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package's directions, until just under al dente. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water and drain (do not rinse the pasta).
This is where you need to work quickly—return the hot pasta to the pot it was cooked in and add half of the cheese and half a cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Using tongs, toss vigorously until a sauce starts to form. Add the rest of the cheese, ground black pepper and another couple splashes of pasta water until the sauce coats each strand of pasta (you probably won’t need all of the reserved cooking water).
Serve immediately in warmed bowls.