weeknight cacio e pepe

We have a lot of high ideas about what we're going to do when we get home. Laundry will be done. Dishes will be cleaned. Light mopping is possible. But then you walk in and it is 7:30pm, there is this incredible inertia that just... glues you to the nearest soft surface, Futurama is on, and boiling water is about as far as anyone can get before everything goes to shit and you lose 6 hours chainsurfing Wikipedia while no folding happens.

But this is not that embarrassing because this legitimately IS the purist's cacio e pepe: pasta with pepper, single pot, no tools. It is a recipe my ex (who is cooking-inclined) taught me (who is not) as the only worthwhile cure for same-night hangovers when the weather was too horrific to order a Domino's. This is already an incredibly simple technique, but I didn't want to have dirty starch cups or colanders, so I learned to do without. You do need tongs.

There are conflicting stances on this, but the official Italian perspective is that you should not use the optional garlic.

I like to twirl it in an artful pile-nest to feel better about the reality of what's happening here.

weeknight cacio e pepe | slothful slattern


Prep time: 3 minutes 
Total time: 10 minutes 
Serves: just you


  • 1/3 package of spaghetti (I use gluten-free for the nice glueiness it adds to the sauce) 
  • 1 cup conserved pasta water 
  • Shit ton of black pepper 
  • Heaps of grated romano cheese


  1. SALT THE FUCK out of the pasta water. This does not work unless you do this.
  2. Cook the spaghetti for about 6 minutes. It needs to be underdone by a full minute.
  3. Turn the heat off. Use tongs and put all the pasta in your bowl. There will be water and that is ok. Dump all the water from the pot except for a half-inch depth at the bottom.
  4. Move the pasta back and pour the excess water in. Add the heaps of cheese and crack a ton of pepper.
  5. Turn the heat back on low and toss with the tongs, coating all of it. The gross liquids will start to merge into a cream.
  6. Eat immediately or it will turn to concrete.