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Gluten-Free Cacio e Pepe (pasta with pepper and grated cheese)

Cacio e Pepe is a quick and tasty Roman Pasta Dish with a creamy, stirred peppery sauce ~ which is getting a little makeover. I’ve added roasted zucchini and chopped garlic to the traditional recipe ~ delicious!
This gluten-free spaghetti is the best I’ve tried… use traditional pasta too.

A platter of Cacio e Pepe updated with added Garlic and Roasted Zucchini
See the creamy sauce which is achieved by stirring

I’ve changed up the classic recipe (yes, I dare to do so!) to add a healthier profile with lots of oven roasted zucchini and chopped garlic. This is a great technique to get your required daily vegetables – and it tastes great… totally complements the pasta.

A platter of Cacio de Pepe updated with added Garlic and Roasted Zucchini


½ pound white rice spaghetti, I used Pasta Joy brand

1 ½ cups pasta water (more if needed)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ½ teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, medium grind, more to taste

2 ½ teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled and small chop

½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

1 cup Pecorino Romano, grated

2 medium-large zucchini, one yellow, one green – cut into 2″ x ½” ” batonnetes 

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pinch salt & pepper

2 tablespoons garlic scapes, thinly sliced, or chives



Before preparing the pasta, and easy sauce ~ Roast the Squash:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Add the zucchini, 1 t. oil, salt & pepper to a rimmed sheet pan.
Mix all together to coat evenly.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing the zucchini once until golden on the outside and caramelized. Set aside.


Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente (will cook for a minute longer in the sauce.)


While the pasta cooks – Prepare the Sauce:
In a heavy, wide skillet, heat 3 T. olive oil and pepper over very low heat for one minute.
Add the garlic, stir and cook for just two minutes, yet do not color the garlic.


Take 2 cups of “pasta water” out of the pot and drain the pasta (do not rinse !)


Add 1 1 /2 cups of the pasta water (not yet the full 2 cups) to the pan, bring to a boil.
Quickly add the pasta, turn heat down to a simmer – and stir for one minute.
Remove from heat, add the 2 cheeses and stir briskly until a creamy sauce is formed.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water, tablespoon at a time to achieve a creamy sauce, if needed.


Toss the zucchini into the pasta, mix well and add to a platter or individual bowls.
Garnish with sliced garlic scapes or fresh-cut chives. (Basil leaves are a nice garnish as well.)
Best made and eaten at once.


If reheating – save some pasta water, add at little to achieve a creamy sauce.

See BLOG for many photos of this recipe, and more information.

This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.

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