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If you’re looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen’s got you covered.
For Christmas, my wonderful parents bought me a professional camera, five novels I’d been wanting to read, and Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. What do you think the first thing I picked up was?! Yeah. It was Cravings. By 10AM on Christmas Day, I’d already picked out the first like, five recipes I wanted to try, and the one I was most excited for was this spicy pasta recipe called Lemony Arugula Cacio e Pepe.
In Italian, cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper. I actually speak pretty decent Italian, and I’d always used the word formaggio for cheese. As it turns out, cacio is more common in certain dialects, but formaggio is the proper term. That’s your Italian lesson for the day. Go to Italy and use it wisely.
So, today I’m going to be doing a couple of things.
The first is showing off my new camera that I’ll be using for blogging from now on. She’s a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and she’s incredible. Yes, she’s a she. The second thing I’ll be doing is showing you how you can recreate this delicious spicy pasta recipe. Uninspired’s whole goal is to help you be the best adult you can be, which means a lot of things. Some days it means helping you set (reeeaaallly) long-term goals by opening a retirement account. Sometimes I give you dating advice. But other times, like today, it means teaching you to cook when you don’t have your parents or a meal plan helpin’ ya out anymore.
Making cacio e pepe is pretty simple, but requires you to pay close attention.
Like, prob not a good idea to spend all your time taking pictures of the bacon instead of watching it cook. Because you might burn it and have to start over. Def not speaking from personal experience. Def don’t have incredible pictures of bacon cooking and also a garbage full of bacon ash.
Oops, guess I do. Well, anyway, be careful with your bacon. Because it goes from beautiful and perfectly sizzly to burnt and smelling like absolute shit in literally a flash. A camera flash. Haaaah. Somebody stop me.
So, the first step of cooking cacio e pepe is to get your pasta water boiling. While you’re waiting for that, you start cooking your bacon. The timing should work out pretty nicely if you don’t screw it up like I did.
Now, here’s where things get a little dicey. (Dicey. I made a cooking joke. Y’know like, finely diced? You forgot to stop me.)
As you may know about me from my caprese stuffed chicken post, I literally hate cooking meat. So, even though Chrissy didn’t tell me to drain the bacon fat, I had to. Because seeing it there was gross enough, but then you’re supposed to add a quarter cup of olive oil to it. That was more than I could bear. So, I set the bacon aside on a paper towel, drained the fat from the pan, then added the oil and garlic to the empty pan. Then, I added the bacon back and continued the recipe as written. It was way less gross and just plain healthier for you.
From here on out, you can follow Chrissy’s instructions.
Unless, of course, you don’t want to. I pretty much did, but there are still a couple things I might change next time. For one thing, I know this is supposed to be a spicy pasta recipe, but my mouth was literally on fire for ten minutes after eating this. If you like a little kick but not actual real pain, there are a few things you can do. One– you can lessen the amount of red pepper flakes. The recipe calls for a teaspoon, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but it is. It really is. It also calls for 2 teaspoons of black pepper, which is also a lot. You can cut back on either of those.
But ya know, the recipe is called cacio e pepe, so sans pepe…it’s just cheese. Which isn’t bad. But you didn’t spend your hard-earned money on Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook for pasta with cheese. If you don’t want to sacrifice the flavor, just the spice, add more lemon juice. The acidity of lemon cancels out spice. A quarter cup may seem like a lot already, but if it’s too spicy, add more. You barely taste a quarter cup of lemon juice with all the other flavors goin’ on here.
Overall, this spicy pasta recipe was a win.
Next time I would be a little more conservative with the spice, and pay closer attention to my bacon. But in the end, it filled me up and impressed my family. The two major facets of cooking like an adult. So, without further ado, here’s the complete recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s book, Cravings.
- 16 oz dried spaghetti
- ¾ c bacon, finely diced
- ¼ c olive oil
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- ¾ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp black pepper
- ¼ c lemon juice
- 1½ c Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 c baby arugula
- Cook spaghetti. Reserve 1 c pasta water, then drain pasta.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon. It should take 7-9 minutes. on med-high heat. Remove from skillet, drain fat.
- Add olive oil to skillet, then garlic, then add bacon back in. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant. Should be about 1 minute.
- Add lemon juice. Toss in pasta. Add the cheese, toss to coat. Then, add pasta water a little at a time. Lastly, add arugula, and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute.
- Season to taste. Serve hot.