Bucatini cacio e pepe with Grana Padano, lemon and basil

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Bucatini cacio e pepe with Grana Padano, lemon and basil


. Difficulty: Easy . Serves: 4 people . Preparation time: 20 minutes . Variety: Pasta
You can’t call yourself a pasta lover if you have never tasted a ‘cacio e pepe’ before! A quintessential roman dish (from Rome) with only 3 ingredients, pasta – cacio (cheese) – and black pepper. A recipe so simple that becomes in fact quite complicated to master with confidence, as there is no space to hide any mistakes!!!

Purists will not be happy that in my version I swapped the traditional Pecorino Romano, , with an aged Grana Padano cheese and also that I added lemon zest and fresh basil for a touch of aromatic freshness. It would be heresy for them, but hey, to them I say, try it before you judge it!

 Chef’s tips: Optionally, you can toast the black pepper in a pan for a couple of minutes to enhance its aroma. Remember to prepare the cheese paste with hot water (not boiling), this will make the recipe 10 times easier!


420 g of bucatini pasta
250/300 g of grated Grana Padano Riserva over 20 months 
1 lemon
1 sprig of basil
Salt and pepper to taste


Drop the pasta in salted boiling water and cook until al dente (you want the pasta to be cooked but with a little bite to it).
Meanwhile in a large bowl mix the grated cheese with just a touch of hot water (not boiling, not salted). Mix with a spatula until the cheese and water combine into a paste. This step will help the cheese not to split when mixed with the hot pasta. Remember, you can add more cheese to the paste if too watery (or the water was too hot!) and you can also add more water to the paste if it is not coming together. 
Now drain the pasta and make sure to save some cooking water. Put the pasta straight into the bowl with the cheese paste and mix to coat well. Add freshly ground black pepper and taste to check the seasoning. If necessary, add more cheese if you want it more powerful and add more pasta water (not boiling) to loosen up the dressing.
When creamy and you are happy with the taste, plate and garnish with more black pepper, lemon zest and fresh basil leaves.
Danilo Cortellini