Fish Curry In A Hurry


According to the latest science, we should be eating fish at least twice a week to prevent stroke, heart disease and dementia. Many people fear cooking fish; overcooking, undercooking and generally stinking up the kitchen. Fish is not just healthy, but can be easy and simple to prepare. This is my easiest fish curry so far.  


This recipe works well for for weeknight meals.  Braising the fish in a flavorful light broth makes it difficult to overcook and the fish stays moist and firm. Braising also reduces cleanup and odors by avoiding the mess of splattering oil which occurs when sautéing or pan-frying. 

The use of powdered spices is inspired by Indian home cooking, as is the light broth. Its not like the creamy dishes found in most Indian restaurants, which are generally not cooked at home. This combination of spices is typical of the state of Bengal, where preparing delicious fish is a highly revered specialty and the pride of all home cooks. It's a lightly spicy curry and you can use only one, or even a half jalapeño if you prefer it mild.

If your fish is frozen, thaw it slowly in the fridge for a day or two before using. If you didn’t plan ahead, thaw in changes of cool water. Keeping the fish cold until cooking reduces the risk of harmful bacterial contamination. 

You can easily adapt this recipe to included shellfish or as a vegetarian version. 

RECIPE: Fish Curry in a Hurry


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds 
  • 1-2 jalapeños, quartered lengthwise  
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric  
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1 Cup halved cherry tomatoes, about 20
  • 2 pounds firm white fish ( snapper, redfish, mackerel, etc), cut into 2 oz pieces (about 2 inch) 


  1. Heat the nigella seeds in oil over medium heat until they begin to sizzle. 
  2. Add the spices, jalapeños and salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes. 
  3. Add the water and cherry tomatoes and bring to a boil. 
  4. Add the fish and cook at medium heat until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice or enjoy on its own. 

Makes 4 to 6 servings


Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry-Cinnamon Maple Syrup


I don’t usually eat breakfast, but I love breakfast foods. Growing up, my father would make us eggs and toast for breakfast before school. On weekends, we had pancakes with syrup, which I spiked with a squeeze of lemon to cut through the sweetness a bit.  My father cooked with us on the weekends which were my mothers days off (I’m fortunate to be the daughter of a man who appreciates the work that women do, and that they should have days off).  It was my 4th grade friendship with twin brothers, Doug and Denny Liphart, that taught me the concept of breakfast for dinner, and the wonders of maple syrup.  The Lipharts were from Pennsylvania and had a steady supply of the good stuff, which held the secrets of a deep, earthy, lingering sweetness that could not be found in Log Cabin or even Mrs. Butterworth’s.  Their mom, Marty, was a great cook and she left me her Betty Crocker Cookbook binder from 1965, my first cookbook. I loved her pancakes and maple syrup dinners. I may have promised each of the twins a kiss on the cheek to get invited back regularly for pancakes, but that part of my memory is fuzzy.  It was a simpler and more innocent time and filled with delicious foods.

I had another serious crush, this time in Italy, with fresh ricotta. It can be eaten just as it is, become sweet or savory on command and is soft, light and always delicious. I just kept wanting more. I recently discovered an Italian making fresh ricotta cheese in Moulton, Texas. I get his Lira Rossa fresh ricotta from the Urban Harvest Farmers’ Market when ever I can.  

So you can only imagine how I feel about ricotta pancakes. 

From a nutrition standpoint, this is a more balanced pancake, getting protein form the ricotta and eggs.  The blueberries in the syrup add lots of vitamins and minerals. And, the cinnamon has some medicinal properties, as its thought to be an anti-inflammatory spice in Ayurvedic medicine.  

My recipe is simple and quick. Separating the eggs and folding the whipped egg whites into the batter makes a lighter, fluffier pancake, but you certainly skip this step and still have a great result. Make the blueberry-maple syrup first so the berries have some time to impart their flavor to the syrup. The cinnamon adds warmth and brings the blueberries and maple flavors together.

RECIPE: Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry-Maple Syrup



  • 1 Cup whole milk ricotta  
  • 1 Cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • Butter for cooking



  1. Combine blueberries, cinnamon and syrup in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. In a work bowl, place the ricotta and sift the flour and baking soda over.  
  3. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the cheese-flour mixture, placing the egg whites into a clean bowl big enough to beat them. 
  4. Using a electric mixer with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. You can do this with a hand whisk if you’d like.
  5. Mix the cheese, flour and yokes together with the beaters, no need to clean them. Then add the milk and beat to combine.  Stir in lemon juice and zest. Mixture will be lumpy. 
  6. Fold in beaten egg whites. 
  7. Cook pancakes with a little butter on a medium hot griddle, about 2-3 minutes each side. 
  8. Serve with blueberry Maple syrup. 

Makes 12 pancakes. 


Pasta with Light Tomato Sauce


It’s tomato season where I live! This year, after hurricanes, freezes, and 2 snowings (most unusual for us), the tomato crop is more plentiful than ever. As a result, I’m inspired to create new tomato sauces.  This one is light and aromatic using fennel and mild herbs. No need to peel or core the tomatoes, just chop them up.  The addition of white wine helps to meld the flavors as the alcohol cooks away. This sauce also cooks in the time it takes to make the pasta, which is perfect.

The tomatoes are truly the star here, so freshness is important.  I have also used a good quality pasta made with ancient wheat from Italy as the sauce is light and the taste of the pasta is important. Several artisanal varieties using heritage American wheats are also available online. Or, just use your favorite dried pasta. 

This dish is rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, folate, niacin, potassium, manganese, several other nutrients, minerals and fiber.  The pasta also contains some protein. You can add a little cheese if you like, for calcium.

RECIPE:  Pasta with Light Tomato Sauce (white wine, fennel, marjoram, thyme) 


  • 1-1/2 lb tomatoes, chopped (I used San Marzano, but plum or Roma would be fine)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel 
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • A few sprigs each, marjoram and thyme 
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 250 grams (dry weight) noodles, just undercooked as they will finish cooking in the sauce (I used tortiglioni here, but penne with ridges would be perfect)


  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions in salted water while you prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat oil in pan with the pepper flakes.
  3. Add the fennel and sauté for about 3 minutes to soften.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, salt, marjoram and thyme. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce and toss. 
  6. Add the parsley and basil and toss again.
  7. Serve immeidately

Serves 4 (or 2 with generous portions)


Easiest Green Beans Ever

Bright green and just tender

Bright green and just tender

Don't you just adore bright, sweet, just cooked through green beans? They are almost universally loved. But who wants to go through the blanching and shocking and then sautéing? Here's an easy way to cook green beans and use them in salads, pasta dishes or just pick them up and eat them.

Green beans are an excellent source of multiple vitamins, minerals and fiber.  The addition of the little bit of extra virgin olive oil, a good fat, helps absorption of vitamin A and several minerals.

Once again, I will take the time to advocate for local farmers’ markets. The green beans in the supermarket are cold stored and lack the nutrition and sweetness of those that are fresh picked. Once you’ve had a really fresh, sweet green bean, there’s no going back to the cold stored variety. This is true of all produce, but you’ll have to taste the difference yourself to become a believer.

This is my easy 1 pot short cut to perfect green beans.

RECIPE: Simple Green Beans


  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tsp water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive


Place all ingredients in a covered flat pan over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes until beans are bright green and just tender. Uncover.

Serves 4






Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce (San Marzano)

The first crop of good tomatoes finally made it to the farmers’ market. And to my great surprise, I found that my Plant It Forward farmer, Sarment had San Marzano tomatoes in his basket.  According to Wikipedia, San Marzano tomatoes originate from the small town of San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy, and were first grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. If I have to use canned tomatoes, these are the only ones I use.

These San Marzanos  were grown in Houston, with no volcanic soil in sight. But everything Farmer Sarment grows is delicious.  So I bought a few intending to showcase them in a no-cook tomato sauce as we hit our first 90 degree days for the year.

Using the best and freshest ingredients in this dish is a must as each flavor shines and nothing is hidden.  Using store bought tomatoes that have been held in cold storage for several weeks with no flavor, aroma or taste, is not advised.  Fresh tomatoes from your garden or a local farmers’ market are the best choice.  The olive oil should also be very good quality and have a rich flavor. For this recipe I use Iliada Organic Extra Virgin Kalamata Olive Oil (you can usually find this in import markets or online).  The pasta also deserves some attention.  I prefer a dry pasta here as it lends some tooth to the soft texture and lightness of the sauce, and using a good organic wheat variety is warranted. Use fresh pasta if you prefer.  The parts blend together to form a simple, delicious dish.  The sauce is extremely light and flavorful.  The tomatoes macerate in the oil and lend their flavor to the sauce without fully breaking down, so its really more of a tomato oil that coats the pasta with lovely bits of tomato along with it.  A little crusty bread will help you lap up every last drop.

The olive oil helps us absorb the vitamin A from the tomatoes. The tomatoes are also a rich source of vitamin C and lycopene.  The pasta provides magnesium, several B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), which are necessary for brain health and memory.

As spring gives way to summer, what better way to lighten our spirits and our dishes than avoiding time at the stove.  Just a pot to boil the pasta and a big bowl to macerate the tomato sauce is all you’ll need to get a healthy and delicious meal on the table. 

RECIPE: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce


  • 24oz fresh tomatoes,  finely chopped (preferably plum or San Marzanos if you can find them)
  • 1 bunch/handful fresh basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)
  • 8 oz (dry weight) organic spaghetti/fettuccine cooked al dente in salted water 
  • Freshly grated parmigiano regiano for serving


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (big enough to fit the pasta and toss)and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. The longer it sits the better it gets.
  2. Add the well-drained cooked pasta and toss. Serve topped with grated parmigiano regiano, and a few more basil leaves.

Serves 2-4



Food Safety: Wash Your Produce


As of the today’s latest news, the outbreak of a toxic strain of E. Coli linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona area has sickened 121 people across 25 states, killing one.  The outbreak has entered its second month and the New York Times reported today that federal agencies are unable to locate the contamination source.   It’s become clear that our regulations regarding food sources have a long way to go.   Several safety measures which were designed to protect our food supply have yet to actually be implemented.  Most of the time our food travels a long way and there are many points of contact where contamination can occur. 

The FDA states: 
‘While the American food supply is the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of food borne illness annually—the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year.  And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.’

So how do we keep ourselves safe? If your food comes from the grocery store, as is the case for most Americans, you are unlikely to know where your food originated or how many hands were laid on it before it got to you.  If you shop at local farmers markets, you may know where your food was grown and who grew it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to contamination by harmful bacteria which live in the soil.  Bags of greens, which have become a convenience for most of us, may say triple washed, but that doesn’t make them clean or safe.  Even if you’ve grown the most beautiful vegetables, you need to think about food safety. I am routinely guilty of eating cherry tomatoes directly off the plant and I do occasionally sample things like tomatoes and sugar snap peas at my local farmers market.  So far, I’ve been lucky.  

The first and most important aspect of food safety (I’m only talking produce here, for meat info see Is Your Steak Safe) is a good and thorough washing.  Whether organic or not, washing and rinsing fruits and vegetables with water helps rid them of soil, microorganisms and potential human pathogens such as E. Coli, listeria and salmonella.  When I get home from the market, I immediately rinse off all visible dirt from the produce.  Then it’s into the sink filled with cool water.  I clean off the counter where I had the vegetables as well.  For thick skinned vegetables, I soak and then use a vegetable bush to scrub them before putting them into the refrigerator.  For greens, I soak them several times, lifting them out from the water as the dirt accumulates in the bottom of the sink and repeat.  Then it’s into the salad spinner to dry before storage. For tender green and herbs I follow the soaking procedure, but don’t leave them in the water too long, and always dry them.

I love the tops of radishes and beet greens.  I also love broccoli and cauliflower leaves.  These are hazardous as they collect dirt and soil in crevices.  I carefully cut off the section attaching the greens to the root vegetable and discard as this is where dirt accumulates.  For all leaves and stems, I pay close attention, washing them out with a light scrub and rinse.

For berries, tomatoes, soft and thin skinned fruits, a quick rinse is running water will do, Remove cores from strawberries and tomatoes to avoid trapped dirt and microbes.  

I set aside about an hour every Saturday after I return from the market to go through the ‘processing’ which help me keep things clean and organized for the week.  I also try to buy just what I need and hopefully eat my bounty fairly quickly (even in the fridge, some bacterial growth can and does occur).  

After all, I’m doing all this to to stay healthy, not to get sick. 


Tuscan Pork with Plum Sauce: Not What You’d Expect


Take Home Lesson #2: Not What You’d Expect

Restaurant Version

Restaurant Version

When I think of plum sauce, my mind immediately goes to Asian cuisine. A delicious, viscous sauce with sweetness and umami to enhance many dishes.  So imagine my surprise to find pork in plum sauce on the menu at the first restaurant we dined in our first jet-lagged evening in Florence. My husband, who loves all things sweet, tangy and pork, made this is choice.  The dish arrived and it was not what we expected.  Perfectly cooked pieces of pork tenderloin (no doubt raised on the heady grassland of the Tuscan hillsides) gently cloaked with a light sauce of re-hydrated prunes to deglaze the pan. This was complemented by the subtle aromatic flavor of fresh bay leaves, something i had forgotten and came to embrace during our journey.  The sauce was not sweet and had a mellowed flavor from the prunes. A whole lotta umami and nothing I would have expected from my knowledge of Italian cuisine.

But that’s just the point. We know cultural cuisines in thin slices, stereotyped and collated to a few dishes that we then apply to whole countries. The real cuisine of any place is local, distinct and amazingly diverse. Villages and towns all around the world have signature dishes. Parma is known for its ham and cheese, Modena for balsamic vinegar and Alba for it’s truffles.  Travel books about Tuscany mention the bistecca Florentine and tripe as signature regional dishes, which they are. What they should also mention is the delicate, subtle ways that food is flavored with herbs and that you should stop at a local restaurant and try something that may end up being a delicious unexpected journey.


This pork dish was so delicious, I tried to recreate it. The trick was to mellow the sweetness of the dried prunes in rehydration.  I chose to soak them in a little dry white wine, which did the trick, although I’m not at all sure this is the actual method. My version had a little more sauce and rosemary as the herb (I have since acquired a very small bay laurel plant and am tending to it with great affection) . I soaked the prunes for 10 hours as a consequence of the work day, but I think 1-2 hours will be sufficient unless you have very dry prunes.  My husband loved it and has placed it in the list of ‘company dishes’, which those of you of a certain generation will understand.  The only real preparation involves soaking the prunes. Otherwise, the dish comes together in little more time than it takes to pan sautée a few pork chops. 

RECIPE: Tuscan Pork with Plum Sauce


  • 4 thick cut pork chops
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 8-10 prunes 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Soak prunes in white wine for a few hours (do this in advance)
  2. Remove pork chops from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about an hour).
  3. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. 
  4. Heat oil in heavy pan.  Add the rosemary and brown the pork chop, then reduce temperature and cook through. Place on a plate and loosely cover to keep warm. 
  5. Slice each prune in thirds.  Add prunes and wine to the pan with the rosemary and deglaze. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove the rosemary and add any juices collected from the resting pork chops, and simmer another minute.
  6. Serve the pork chops with the sauce spooned over. 

Serves 4. 


An Apple a Day Won’t Keep the Doctor Away

How old?

How old?

Did you know the apples we get from the grocery store are 9 to 12 months old?  I know it’s hard to believe and a little unnerving, but it’s true.   The USDA allows a method of sophisticated food technology called controlled atmosphere storage that holds apples between 30 and 36 degrees for up to 1 year.  Freshly picked apples will last a few weeks before they spoil, so this is a way to preserve them.  Some fruit distributors treat their apples with a gaseous compound, 1-methylcyclopropene, which blocks the ethylene produced when fruits are ripening and aging naturally.  This is the same compound that keeps broccoli from yellowing and lettuce from browning.  This is how we have apples, which normally have a short season that lasts from August to October, all year long. It’s also how we get the varieties from all around the world. This may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. 

4 hours after cutting

4 hours after cutting

The apple I’m eating may look fresh, and it may be sweet, but it certainly doesn’t taste like the freshly picked version. It also has very little nutritional content.  Over time, the antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin C which is highly labile, degrade so there is almost no nutrition left in the year old apple.  Cold storage of any produce reduces the nutritional value, and the longer it’s stored, the more it’s robbed of nutrition. This may explain why so many people I see in my practice are low in vitamin C, despite eating fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, whether organic or not. 

My first apple pie recipe came out of a 1963 Betty Crocker cookbook and the first thing to do was ready a bowl of lemon juice in which to place the peeled apples to keep them from browning. 30 years ago, the apples did brown quickly when you you cut them. This was the sign that the vitamin C was oxidizing and could be prevented by the lemon juice, which is vitamin C rich.  But these days, I can cut an apple and let the core sit out for several hours with minimal discoloration; a sign that very little vitamin C and anti-oxidants are present.  

The best way to enjoy taste and nutrition would be to eat fresh apples in season. But that would limit our year round access, and require a huge change in food policy. 

6 hours after cutting

6 hours after cutting

Knowing all this, I still eat apples occasionally because I love them with my aged English cheddar. I think of eating apples as I do any other sweet treat, a form of calories with a little fiber for good measure.  When I think of eating nutritous fruits, I choose seasonal, local items from the farmers market, where freshness is certain. Right now, I have the last of the oranges, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries available and I’m taking full advantage of them.

It’s a sad thing that shelf life has taken priority over taste and nutrition. Only by demanding a change in food policy can we fix this. It’s a long battle and maybe we can start with A for apple. 

Tricolor Vegetables w Bengali 5 Spice (panch phoran)


One of the many joys of seasonal cooking is embracing doing the best with what you’ve got. Such is my journey with purple cabbage. I don’t give it much thought at all. I look at it and immediately think cole slaw.  But Sarment, one of the farmers I visit every week knowing everything he grows is delicious, had several adorable little purple cabbages a few weeks ago. He also had gorgeous Swiss chard and the usual divine sweet potatoes. These items came home with me and became the inspiration for this dish. 

I have been making this regularly and eating it with a side of Greek yogurt as lunch. It’s lovely to look at, and the purple cabbage retains its color and crunch to balance against the gently wilted chard and creamy sweet potatoes. Everyone, especially children, are always interested in this dish. It’s appealing.

I have used an Indian spice mix here as it is round in taste, flavorful, mild and compliments the vegetables. It’s a particularly good complement to cabbage. Traditionally used in the Indian state of Bengal, panch (five) phoran (whole spice) is a mix containing fennel, nigella(onion seeds), mustard, fenugreek and cumin. It is used in a old vegetable dish popular in Bengali households called chachori, where no part of any vegetable is wasted. This tradition is being slowly lost in favor of more sophisticated foods, but it’s too delicious not to rescue.  You can also use coriander in place of the cumin.  You can make your own (equal parts of each) or buy it online.  Spices have medicinal and health properties that have been studied in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. This blend contains spices that act as anti-oxidants and are believed to reduce inflammation. 

Something this beautiful, easy and delicious makes cooking a delight. Serve it as a side dish, eat with a piece of bread, a small bowl of rice, or with yogurt (like me).  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

RECIPE: Tricolor Vegetables with Bengali 5 Spice


  • 2 tsp panch phoran
  • 1 Tsp expeller pressed canola
  • 3C chopped sweet potatoes
  • 3C chopped purple cabbage
  • 1 C chopped Chard stems
  • 4C chopped Chard leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric


  1. Heat spices in the pan slowly with oil until the mustard seeds just start to pop.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and remaining spices and sauté for 2-3 minutes, covering occasionally.
  3. Add the cabbage, toss, and cook covered for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add chard stems and cook covered 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the chard leaves and toss to gently wilt.  

Adjust seasonings and enjoy.   Serves 4.


Simplicity & Balance: Cacio e Pepe


Take Home Lesson #1 Simplicity & Balance

Italian Version

Italian Version

One of the many joys of traveling is re-introducing yourself to dishes you thought you knew, cooked by the people who originally made them. I am not debating good or bad, better or worse here; I’m thinking about how our own palates alter the interpretation of the dishes and the myriad of reasons this happens.

Pici cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) is the simplest of dishes and thus, difficult to make perfectly. Classically a dish from Rome, where the cheese used is pecorino romano, the Tuscan version can use parmagiano regiano, as the city of Parma is not too far away, or pecorino toscano. The pasta type, pici, which a chubby cousin of spaghetti, hails from Siena, and is the perfect size and thickness to hold and balance the minimalist sauce. This must be cooked and served at once for the true deliciousness to be savored. If you are using fresh pici, and I’m trying to find the right die to make it, the first bite of pasta may seem a little undercooked, but the rest will be perfect as it continues to cook and absorb the sauce. Fresh pasta makes a big difference here, as its stickiness and starchiness helps create the creaminess of the sauce, as well as absorbing the flavors.

American Version

American Version

The pici cacio e pepe I had recently in Florence was masterfully done. I had a version in Houston the week before, which was also delicious, but my new experience begs me to reconsider our version-perhaps the added mound of cheese and and extra cracked pepper is gilding the lily. By comparison, the Italian version would seem totally naked, unadorned. But, this is how we in America view our pasta: under a sea of sauce and a mound of cheese. It’s what we expect when we order pasta, and this is perfectly fine. This may be derived from the Italian American experience as immigrants brought the food of their origins into a new world, adapting to what was available, the amount of time they had to cook, and changing it in the process. Many other factors also played roles, including big changes in how and why Americans eat.

We eat with our eyes first, so there has to be an adjustment in our view, a change in the expectation of what deliciousness looks like. Minimalist, modern, sophisticated food is delicious, and served on a beautiful plate the visual affect is stunning.

Until I figure out how to make pici, or talk the pasta man into making it for me, I’ll get really good fresh spaghetti from the farmers market, and remember to cook it very al dente as I mix the sauce.

I’m going to try to incorporate this lesson into my cooking and eating. Using great ingredients remains the key to all great food. To balance them in simple perfection, to create a harmonious dish is not easy, but well worth the practice. I will try to visualize food differently as well, looking not for embellishment, but simplicity, balance and sophistication. Less is more in many things, and this dish is a perfect example.

The recipe below is more of a process and you should change the amounts and combinations of cheese and pepper to your taste. It’s so quick to make, you can love several versions and make what you like. The key is the pan sauce, using just the right amount of water; so add it in small quantities for the perfect creaminess.

Most recipes for this add butter and oil, which are fine, but this is the simplest of versions.

Have a high sided pan to build the sauce and pasta. Get all the ingredients ready and have them at hand, as this goes quickly!

RECIPE: Pasta Cacio e Pepe


  • 8oz fresh pasta (spaghetti, or pici if you can get it)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 to 1-1/2 C grated pecorino (or 1/2 each pecorino and paramgiano)


  1. Bring water to boil in a pot and add salt.
  2. Add pasta to the pot and cook per instructions to al dente.
  3. Warm the pan over low heat.
  4. Drain pasta, reserving 1 C pasta water.
  5. Put pasta into the pan and immediately add the cheese mixing quickly and adding small amounts of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy dressing. Add desired amount of pepper so that it has a sharpness and spice, but is not too hot, and mix again.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Serves 2-4.