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.
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, stay warm and safe, and cheers to you and yours.
- Large stock pot
- Large saute pan
- 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
- 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.