Chrissy Teigen's Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe with Wilted Greens & Mushrooms
I've really enjoyed reading Chrissy Teigen's cookbook Cravings - her recipe headnotes are as entertaining as her Twitter feed - but I hadn't actually made anything until paging through it recently to find her Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe. I will never turn down cacio e pepe pasta (cheese, pepper and pasta are all things I love) but also it seemed like an easy way to use up greens besides arugula. I made it once exactly according to the recipe (only because I happened to have arugula in the fridge, let's be honest) and now am making it regularly with whatever greens in my kitchen currently need to be used up. Got a box of spinach? Wilted kale of any kind? Got chard or broccoli or even a box of mixed greens that's been mocking you from the fridge for over a week? Toss it in! Also, her recipe calls for pancetta, but I didn't have any, so I used a tin of anchovies (mmmm anchovies) and shiitake mushrooms to get back some meaty umami flavor. It's a great recipe to riff off based on what in your house needs to be used up.
So here's my flexible food waste version of her recipe - for the real thing in all its lemony arugula goodness, grab her book or click here!
The Rough Recipe
Here's What You Need:
- Kosher salt
- 12-16 ounces dried spaghetti or pasta of your choice
- Optional meaty flavorings: 3/4 cup diced pancetta or bacon or a tin of anchovies and a cup of sliced mushrooms (optional, but try using just one for flavor if you're not into anchovies) (but you should be because THEY ARE SO GOOD) (also my vegetarian friend Rahul swapped in a minced Beyond Meat burger and it was very tasty)
- 1/4 cup or so of extra-virgin olive oil
- A few cloves of garlic
- A big pinch of red pepper flakes
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper (Chrissy says 2 teaspoons but I never measure fresh ground pepper, do you?)
- The juice of 2-3 lemons (this will still be delicious if you don't have any lemons) (also add some zest and save the lemon peels for cleaning vinegar!)
- 1 and 1/2 cups grated Parm, Pecorino, or other tasty hard cheese
- A few cups of whatever raw leafy greens or cooked veggies you have on hand, such as kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, peas, asparagus, you choose.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta to al dente. Drain and save a cup of the pasta water to add to your sauce.
As your pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and cook your meaty (whether they are actually meaty or not) ingredients. If you're using bacon or pancetta, it will have its own fat; if you're using mushrooms or anchovies, heat with a little bit of the olive oil. Once the meat is cooked or your anchovies have dissolved into the oil, add the rest of your olive oil along with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and a bunch of turns of your black pepper grinder.
Add the lemon juice and zest, if using, and then add your pasta to the skillet. Toss it in the sauce so it's all mixed, then add your grated cheese. Pour in some pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, to help the cheesy sauce cover all the pasta. Stir in your leafy greens and toss until they wilt, or mix in cut tomatoes or steamed or boiled or roasted or leftover veggies and stir until they're heated through.
Taste your cheesy deliciousness and add more Parm, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, or whatever you like until the taste makes you happy. Enjoy! Thanks Chrissy!