Anthony Bourdain’s Favorite Pasta Dish Is So Easy To Make

There is nothing more comforting than a perfectly cooked plate of noodles with a simple sauce, whether you are 8 years old or 80 years old. Even celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain agrees that simple is best when it comes to pasta.

And it just so happens that Bourdain’s favorite pasta is cacio e pepe — which translates to “cheese and pepper” in some Italian dialects — and it’s super easy for just about anyone to make.

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Cacio e pepe is one of Rome’s traditional pasta dishes, but it doesn’t require any obscure ingredients from an expensive European market. All you need are the basics: Butter, cheese, salt, pepper … and of course, noodles!

So what’s the trick to cooking a Bourdain-worthy cacio e pepe? It’s easy. As Food & Wine explains, you create a pan sauce using some of the water you used to cook the pasta, and then you add butter, pepper, and the noodles. Add the cheese and voila! The starch in the pasta water will help the sauce to perfectly coat every stand, giving you a velvety but light sauce that will taste like Bourdain himself prepared it for you.

Of course, there are many variations on cacio e pepe. When it comes to the noodle of choice, spaghetti or vermicilli is traditional, but you can also use bucatini (this means ‘hole’ in Italian, as this thin noodle has a hole in it).

Most recipes call for Parmesan or pecorino cheese, but you can really get creative. For example, over at I Will Not Eat Oysters, blogger and chef Danielle Oron uses kashkaval, a popular Israeli cheese made with a combination of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk, and Bulgarian feta. Yum!

Another option for making cacio e pepe truly decadent is by adding a poached egg on top, like blogger Laura does at Cuisine & Cocktails.

If you are a carnivore who thinks that no meal is complete without meat, you could add crispy pancetta onto your cacio e pepe, like Guy Fieri does on this recipe at the Food Network.

Just make sure that you use fresh, high-quality ingredients, i.e. skip the Kraft Parmesan cheese that’s been sitting in your pantry for months. Serve alongside a green salad, a crusty bread and of course, a glass of vino!