Recipe: Simple Homemade Pici Cacio e Pepe from Scratch

Making handmade pasta at home from scratch may seem like a daunting task. It does require time and effort to prepare, but the ingredients can be very simple. If it’s your first time making pasta from scratch, this pici recipe is a perfect one to start with. You don’t need any fancy equipment – i.e. no pasta roller machine! In fact, I didn’t even use a rolling pin.

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What is Pici?

Pici is a hand-rolled pasta, which is much thicker than spaghetti. It’s actually only made from flour, water, olive oil and salt. That means it would be vegan-friendly too.

The secret to al dente

I like all my pastas to be extremely al dente. To ensure that any type of handmade pasta turns out super al dente, the key is to knead the dough A LOT. The dough surface texture needs to be super smooth, like a baby’s butt. That requires at least 20 mins of kneading for me. If you have a strong partner to help you out, it might be faster. To be honest, I often stop before it reaches baby-butt-smoothness, but you get the idea.

All purpose flour is fine too

Also, some recipes call for strong white bread flour. My other handmade egg pasta recipe calls for “00” flour. I believe those might be better options. But for this pici recipe, let’s just use all purpose flour because it’s one you’d more likely to have in your pantry. It still turns out pretty good any way.

For more about the technique of kneading the pasta dough, read Secret to Making Very Al Dente Homemade Pasta

What is Cacio e Pepe?

Cacio e Pepe translates to cheese and pepper. I’ve tried a traditional cacio e pepe when in Montalcino (Tuscany, Italy) and it was so simple yet so delicious. On the other hand, some restaurants add a little bit more to their versions. For example, according to this cacio e pepe recipe from the Olive Magazine, Padella uses oil, butter, garlic and herbs too. (It’s amazing, by the way).

For this version, I decided to keep it super straight forward and stick with only 3 ingredients: cheese, salt and pepper (and water).

And the end product in a video:

Handmade Pici Cacio e Pepe from Scratch

Traditional pici cacio e pepe is an extremely simple dish with minimal ingredients. Here's my take on how to make the pici and the sauce.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Dinner, Pasta
Servings: 2

Ingredients

Homemade Pici Pasta

  • 200 g all purpose flour plus extra for dusting the counter surface
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Cacio e Pepe Sauce

  • 8 tbsp parmesan cheese heaped spoons
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

For the Homemade Pici Pasta

  • Place the flour in a large bowl with a volcano-like well in the middle. Place the water, olive oil and salt in the well. Slowly mix the flour into the liquid with a fork in a circular motion until a dough is formed.
  • Move the dough onto a clean surface, dusted with some flour. Knead it by folding it over, pressing it down with your palm, and folding it over again. Repeat for at least 10-15 minutes, or until the surface is smooth as a baby's butt.
  • Wrap the dough ball with cling film and leave it to rest for 30 mins. This step is very important!
  • Roll out the dough out into a rectangle shape, roughly 10 x 25 cm in size, and 0.5 cm thick. The dough is very flexible at this point, so I actually just gently 'pulled it' into the rectangular shape.
  • With a knife, cut out vertical slices with approx. 3mm thickness.
    Cutting handmade pici pasta
  • Roll out these "slices" into long noodles. Cover with cling film when it's on the side, as they may quickly dry up.
    Handmade pici pasta rolls
  • Cook in boiling water, with a tiny bit of olive oil and a lot of salt, for approx. 1.5-2 minutes.

For the Cacio e Pepe sauce

  • In a food processor, mix parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and water together. It can also be done in a bowl with a fork or whisk.
  • While the pasta is still hot, place it directly into the bowl of sauce and toss until the pasta is covered.

 

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