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Cacio E Pepe with Asparagus
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
This cacio e pepe with asparagus recipe offers a springtime twist on the classic pasta dish. The dish comes together quickly for weeknight ease and hits all the right notes with peppery, creamy spaghetti and tender spring asparagus.
Recipe Type: Dinner
Keyword: cacio e pepe
Makes: 6 servings
Author: Elizabeth Stark
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino
  • 1 pound asparagus, rinsed well with woody ends snapped off
  • Lemon zest for garnish, if desired
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sea salt to the water. Cook the asparagus 1 - 2 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and set a timer for two minutes less than the shortest recommended cook time.
  2. When asparagus is cool enough to handle, cut it lengthwise into thin, 1/8-inch thick strips.
  3. Meanwhile, in a deep, wide pot big enough to hold the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the pepper. The butter and pepper mixture will bubble and bloom, once fragrant, turn heat to low.
  4. When the pasta is almost done, use a measuring cup to pull 1 cup starchy pasta water from the pot and add it to the butter mixture. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a vigorous simmer. Stir often as the butter and pasta water reduce to a creamy, light brown sauce. Keep over low heat.
  5. When the pasta's done, scoop it out of the water with your spaghetti spoon and toss it, along with the asparagus, in the pot with the creamy sauce. With your spaghetti spoon and maybe a second wooden spoon, work quickly to fold the cheese into the hot pasta. Add a splash more pasta water as needed.
  6. Serve pasta immediately in big twists, garnish with lemon zest and more pepper.