Penne Cacio e Pepe


According to my thermometer it’s 90 degrees outside and 83 degrees inside. And we are not even close to the hottest part of the day. We have at least four or five more hours until the temperature will top out.

I’m not into baking or cooking when it’s this hot. That really puts a damper on my lifestyle! But I do need to eat, and I’ll need to eat the rest of the week, too. When it’s this hot, I normally eat a lot of guacamole. It’s easy to make and doesn’t heat up the house. But I’m out of tortilla chips and none of my avocados are ripe right now anyway. So I decided to try a very simple pasta dish that doesn’t involve a ton of time on the stove.

I was drawn to this dish because, at first glance in pictures, it looks like the pasta is possibly tossed in a very light alfredo sauce. I loooooove alfredo sauce. Looks are deceiving because there’s no milk or cream in this recipe. Just four main ingredients (pasta, butter, pepper and cheese) and two side ones (water and salt(. But the two side ones are key to making the dish.


  • 16 oz penne pasta
  • 8 T. (one stick) butter
  • 2 T. black pepper, freshly cracked
  • ¼ to ½ c. reserved pasta water (or more, as needed)
  •  1 to 1 ½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. (I find that this means you should cook the pasta about two minutes less than what’s recommended on the box. Unless the directions specifically say ‘for an al dente pasta.’)
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fresh cracked pepper.When the butter begins to bubble, turn off the flame and remove from heat.
  3. When the pasta is ready, add the noodles and the pasta water to the sauté pan. Cook over medium high heat until the liquid bubbles, tossing the pasta as needed. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, tossing rigorously until all ingredients are incorporated into a creamy sauce. Once you’ve added the cheese, you may find you need to add more water to get a creamy sauce.
  4. Garnish with additional black pepper and Parmesan, and serve immediately.

So now I have something to eat either for lunch at work all week or for dinner when I arrive home and it’s 85 degrees inside my house and have no desire to cook. This heat wave is expected to last through the middle of the week. My guess is it will actually last longer. Don’t they always?

This morning I headed out to Home Depot to grab myself an air conditioner. They were sold out. I heard from others trying in vain to buy an air conditior as well that all stores are sold out in the immediate area. Wonderful.

So I went home to my already 80 degree house and ordered one from My air conditioner is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday and I should be able to resume normal living and cooking conditions once that arrives!

I love how simple this dish is to make. And even though I’m normally a salt fiend, I found this creamy, peppery dish almost addicting. And worth it to heat up the stove for a few minutes in the middle of a sweltering heat wave.

Recipe rating: 


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