Ever since I lived in New Zealand, I've had a hard time with really starchy foods like pasta and rice.
Not that they're bad foods, they just don't sit well with me.
But then I discovered chickpea pasta and my life changed.
My tummy doesn't hurt when I eat it, it is more nutritious than regular pasta, and my husband can't even tell. Triple win!
I've written so many pasta recipes with chickpea pasta like my Easy Skillet Mac and Cheese, homemade spaghetti sauce, and this Instant Pot Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.
This one is just as delicious as the others but it's even easier to make and healthier too!
Cacio e pepe is an Italian pasta dish made with a few simple ingredients. Literally translated, "cacio e pepe" means "cheese and pepper."
Traditionally, the sauce is made with melted butter, pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper.
Pasta Carbonara is cooked pasta tossed in a sauce made with eggs and parmesan cheese, while Cacio e Pepe is cooked pasta tossed in a sauce made with melted butter, pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper.
However, both rely on the hot pasta and a bit of reserved pasta water to create a thin, creamy sauce.
Cacio e pepe remains a true, authentic Italian dish and only requires a few simple ingredients, but Alfredo is considered Italian-American and is usually made with a roux and heavy cream in addition to cheese and spices.
With an American accent, you would pronounce cacio "KA-chee-o," with the emphasis on the first syllable.
My recipe for cacio e pepe is a lighter and healthier version on the traditional dish because it's naturally gluten free and dairy free.
For this recipe, you'll need:
If you want to use regular cheese, I would use two ounces grana padano cheese with one ounce pecorino romano cheese for the best flavor. You'll need a splash of milk or cream to help thin out the sauce, too. If you want to really go the extra mile, you could add a tablespoon or two of pecorino cream!
Any noodles will work for this recipe.
Any butter will work, including soft butter.
Add a splash of lemon juice (not too much lemon juice!) or a teaspoon meyer lemon zest to the butter sauce for a bright lemon parmesan sauce!
Add an extra depth of flavor by mincing garlic cloves and sauteing them in the butter and pepper.
Not a fan of shrimp? Use equal amounts of chicken or tofu for a vegan option.
Step 1: boil the pasta. Cook the pasta in a large pot until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta completely but do not rinse.
Step 2: saute the shrimp. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the shrimp in a single layer to the hot oil and season with kosher salt and pepper.
Cook 3-4 minutes until the shrimp is pink around the edges and almost completely white. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 3: make the butter sauce. In the same large pan, reduce to medium heat, respray with cooking spray, and add the four tablespoons of butter. As the butter melts, add in lots of fresh cracked black pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
Step 4: combine all the elements. By now, your pasta should be nearly finished or just finished. Once the noodles are cooked, toss immediately in the butter sauce and add half the pasta water and all the nutritional yeast.
Continue adding pasta water until the cacio e pepe is thin, creamy, and silky smooth.
Pro tip: air on the side of caution and add more pasta water than you think. Once the pasta cools, it will thicken up and if there's not enough water, you'll end up with a sticky, gooey mess.
Once the cacio e pepe is ready, gently fold in the cooked shrimp.
Garnish with more fresh cracked black pepper and enjoy!
Add your pasta to a microwave safe bowl, then sprinkle one tablespoon of water on top. Microwave for 45-90 seconds until warm, then toss in the water.
Adding water back to the noodles will thin out the congealed sauce and make it creamy again.
With this trick, your "next day noodles" will be just as good as the fresh ones!
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I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! It's so easy to make and it's a healthier version of the traditional recipe, too.
Be sure to leave a star rating and review below if you try the recipe so other readers know how you liked it!
Made with just 5 ingredients in 15 minutes, this recipe for Healthy Cacio e Pepe with Shrimp will be your new favorite weeknight dinner. It's so easy to make, it's high in protein, and it's naturally gluten free and dairy free too!
*You can use any size of shrimp, and even tail on shrimp, but make sure your shrimp is raw, not frozen. If using frozen shrimp, thaw completely and pat dry before cooking.
Nutritional facts are a calculated estimate of one serving, which is 1/4 of the prepared pasta with 1/4 of the shrimp.
Serving: 1/4 skillet / Calories: 370 / Fat: 15.5g / Saturated fat: 5g / Carbohydrates: 41g / Fiber: 8g / Sugar: 1g / Protein: 34g
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