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Black Pepper Parmesan Pasta with Parmesan Crisps

The weather is cooling down and kids are back in school, so gather the family around the table for a pasta night feast!  This is a nod to the classic Roman pasta dish “Cacio e Pepe” (cheese and pepper) pasta with the fun inspiration that it is a gourmett “mac and cheese”!  A quick and easy meal that everyone will love.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 – 6



  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups pasta water
  • 1 5-ounce packaged Aged Parmesan Cheese, grated fine
  • ¼ cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 5-ounce package Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Dried red chili flakes, garnish
  • Optional toppings: Fresh oregano, basil, bacon crumbles, halved cherry tomatoes


Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat butter and two teaspoons of fresh black pepper over medium-low heat until pepper is fragrant and butter is sizzling, about 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and reserve for later.

Add the spaghetti to the stockpot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, make the Parmesan Crisps.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, line up 8 piles (about 2 tablespoons per pile) of Shredded Parmesan Cheese.  With your fingers, lightly pat into circles leaving at least an inch between circles.  Bake until the cheese melts and bubbles into lacy disks, 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside for plating.

Two minutes before pasta is done, heat the sauté pan on medium high heat and add 1 ½ cups of the pasta water to the butter pepper mixture and simmer while pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauté pan along with ¾ of the finely grated Aged Parmesan Cheese and Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese.  Toss the pasta in the sauce with tongs until the cheese has melted and created a creamy sauce that coats the pasta.  If the sauce is still too wet, continue to simmer until the water has reduced and clings to the pasta.  If sauce is too dry, add a couple tablespoons of pasta water.

Divide hearty helpings of pasta between 4 to 6 bowls and serve with a Parmesan Crisp.  Pass extra grated cheese, black pepper, and dried red pepper flakes at the table.

Rad Cooking Fact:

  • Adding water from your pasta boil incorporates starch from the pasta and creates a smoother sauce.