Cacio e Pepe with a Pear & Parmesan Salad
If you have the time, making your own fresh pasta and bread is incredibly cost effective - and not to mention delicious! There’s nothing better than fresh bread out of the oven or a creamy bowl of pasta. The ingredients required are basic pantry staples too - so for the most part they are relatively cheap. Cacio e Pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper, and this classic pasta dish is super simple but packed full of flavour!
This week I’ve challenged myself to create healthy, delicious and inexpensive meals under $10, and must serve at least 4 people. My cacio e pepe and salad comes in at $9.98 and serves 4 people.
This recipe will tell you how to make fresh pasta, but if you would like to save time you can also use store bought. Standard spaghetti costs around $1.20 AU for 500grams.
For the fresh pasta:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of type 00 white flour, plus more for dusting
For the Cacio e Pepe:
50 grams of butter, cubed
freshly cracked black pepper, taste
salt, to taste
1 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or good quality Parmesan
For the salad:
1 cup of rocket leaves
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 pear, washed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or good quality Parmesan
To make the fresh pasta dough:
In a mixing bowl add flour, salt, beaten egg, and olive oil. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together. If your dough seems too crumbly, or its not holding together well, add the cold water and/or another teaspoon of olive oil.
Flour a chopping board and place dough on it. Knead the dough (for no more than 2 minutes) to form a ball. Flatten the dough so it is about 12 cms thick and then tightly wrap in cling wrap. Set this aside for at least an hour and a half.
Set up a pasta machine, preferably with a spaghetti or noodle attachment.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. One at a time (wrap up rest of dough while you work on one piece) roll it out with a rolling pin until 4 cms thick. Next work the dough through the pasta machine on the various thickness settings, until you have a long piece of pasta that you can just see the light through.
Put the pasta sheet through the noodle attachment, and once cut dust thoroughly with more flour to prevent it from drying out.
To make the salad:
Combine rocket leaves, sliced pear and Parmesan in a bowl and give it a good toss. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve!
To make the Cacio e Pepe:
In a shallow dutch oven or large saucepan, add 3 cubes of butter, black pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the butter foams.
In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, (the fresh pasta needs heavily salted water), cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente -fresh pasta only needs 2 minutes in boiling water, and it will finish cooking completely in the sauce.
After approximately 2 minutes, remove pasta from the water and using a slotted spoon add it to the large saucepan. Add 2 ladlefuls of the pasta water, the parmesan, and last cube of butter. Stir until the parmesan is melted and sauce is creamy, glossy and emulsified.
Serve pasta seasoned with more pepper, salt and Parmesan if you wish. Please enjoy!
Notes: If the pasta sauce looks too tight, add some more pasta water. If it is too thin you can add some more cheese or continue stirring for another minute (it will continue thickening as it cooks).
Ingredient Price Breakdown:
1 tablespoon of olive oil $0.30 ($9 for 1L)
1 large egg, lightly beaten $0.35 ($4.10 for 1 packet of 12 eggs
1 cup of type 00 white flour, plus more for dusting $0.25 ($2.37 for 1kg)
(Or store bought spaghetti: $1.30 for 500 grams)
50 grams of butter, cubed $0.80 (1 250gram block $4.00)
1 100gram block of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or good quality Parmesan to be used for the pasta and salad $4.75
2 cups (60grams) of rocket & baby spinach leaves $2.00
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil $0.60 ($9.00 for 1L)
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar $0.35 ($5.00 for 500ml bottle)
1 pear, washed and thinly sliced $0.58 each
Pantry Staples: salt & pepper
*all prices are in $AU, and averages based on availability at time of recipe development and geographical region (Sydney, Australia)