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Gluten-Free, Vegan Cacio e Pepe for your Christmas Eve

Cacio e Pepe – which literally translates to “cheese and pepper” in Italian – seems like an impossible dish to make gluten-free and vegan, doesn’t it? I sure thought so, but have been wanting to try it ever since I learned that it’s an Italian tradition to serve the simple, peppery, creamy dish on Christmas Eve, for good luck and prosperity in the year to come.

I come from a Northern Italian family, and since we have fish allergies in the family and can’t do Feast of the Seven Fishes, Cacio e Pepe seems like a nice, simple alternative. Plus, since the weather forecast looks extreme this year and you probably already have all of the ingredients you need (gluten-free dried pasta, vegan butter, ground pepper and vegan cheese), it’s a good last-minute (but still festive) option.

I didn’t have high expectations on the night I experimented with this, but honestly – it turned out delicious, and I’d proudly serve it to a crowd. Merry Christmas Eve to those who celebrate, stay warm and safe, and cheers to you and yours.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Cacio e Pepe for your Christmas Eve

Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Large stock pot
  • Large saute pan
  • Strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 pound gluten-free pasta, such as Jovial Brown Rice Spaghetti or Capellini
  • 3 tbsp vegan, soy-free, nut-free butter, such as soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp black pepper (freshly cracked if you have it, if not, any jarred ground pepper will do)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated vegan, soy-free, nut-free parmesan, such as Violife Just Like Parm

Instructions

  • Cook gluten-free pasta according to box instructions, being sure to reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
  • While the pasta cooks, melt 2 tbsp vegan butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  • Add ground pepper and use a spatula to mix into vegan butter, allowing the pepper to toast and incorporate into the melted butter, about 1 minute.
  • Carefully add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and the salt to the butter mixture, then stir to combine.
  • Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes, then add remaining 1 tbsp vegan butter and allow to melt.
  • Add 3/4 cup of the grated vegan parmesan, stirring until a creamy sauce forms.
  • Immediately add drained, cooked pasta to the pot with the sauce and toss with tongs or two forks until noodles are coated with the peppery sauce.
  • Serve immediately, topping plates with remaining grated vegan parmesan at the table.
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Hey there, I'm Liz!

As a former food editor and everyday home cook, I’ve spent the past 15+ years testing, tasting and saving delicious, Octofree recipes for my family. It’s with lots of love that I share the best of the bunch with you, along with tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

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Join Octofree to get a handy, printable chart of Octofree substitutions for common ingredients.