This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Family Favorites" so since Max's favorite dinner is just a bowl of tuna, I figured I should go with one of mine. I have lot of "favorites" that I eat for dinner, but when I am tired, it has been a busy week and I really am not much in the mood to fuss with anything, I crave carbs, usually in the form of some kind of pasta with some type of cheese. It seems like I always have pasta in the pantry cupboard and good cheese in the fridge so I can whip up a simple, tasty dish in 15-20 minutes. I went with Nigella's version of Capellini Con Cacio E Pepe (or really just pasta with cheese and pepper), from her cookbook, Forever Summer (on page 40). Since I am madly running around getting ready for my Mom to visit this week, I was happy to have such an easy comfort food dish to enjoy.
Nigella says, "This is another gloriously simple, intensely flavored pasta, best eaten quickly and hungrily under a warm sun though the deep heat of the pepper is gratifyingly warming on cold winter nights. I list pecorino cheese here rather than Parmesan, simply because, in the first instance, that's how I came across it (In Rome, many summers ago) and in the second, because I love its sharper, sourer edge. Sometimes, though, I use Parmesan I always have hanging about, with the zest of a lemon, or half of one, grated in alongside. You need the black pepper really quite coarsely ground here (though not quite so coarsely as to induce a coughing fit), so if you can't adjust your pepper mill, bash some peppercorns in a pestle and mortar instead."
Capellini Con Cacio E Pepe
Forever Summer, Nigella Lawson
(Serves 4 as a starter; or 2 as a main course)
10 ounces capellini
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
10 Tbsp freshly grated pecorino Romano
1 Tbsp black peppercorns coarsely ground
Put a panful of water on to boil for the pasta; once it's come to a boil, add salt then the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the package. Just before you drain it, though, remove a coffee cupful of its cooking water.
So drain the pasta and add the butter to the hot pan and then tip in the capellini and toss well, dribbling in a tablespoonful or so of cooking liquid as you do so. Now add the grated pecorino and coarse black pepper and toss well in the residual heat of the pan--adding a little more pasta-cooking liquid if you need the lubrication--before tipping into warmed bowls.
Notes/Results: Perfect! Creamy and cheesy with a kick from the black pepper, this is a very simple and very delicious dish. You have to love such a low-effort recipe with big flavor results. I actually used a thick spaghetti rather than a capellini because it was what I had on hand, although I do like a slightly sturdier pasta like this when cheese is involved. Nice with a side salad or if it has been a tough week, just consume most of the bowl of pasta while sitting cross-legged on the couch, preferably without thinking any deep thoughts. ;-)
Max with his "Family Favorite"
(He would look up, but that would require him to stop eating so he really can't be bothered with being polite) ;-)
In addition to it being my entry for I Heart Cooking Clubs, I am also sending this dish to Presto Pasta Nights being hosted this week by Sara of imafoodblog. Check out the PPN round-up on her site on Friday. There are always so many wonderful pasta recipes to enjoy.