Za'atar Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Za'atar Cacio e Pepe Recipe
By The Cooking World, Editorial Staff
July 29, 2022

Za'atar Cacio e Pepe: A Twist on the Tradicional Cacio e Pepe

This week we decided to share not one but two recipes. Today we bring you a Za'atar Cacio e Pepe recipe for when you feel the need to add a boost of flavor to the traditional dish.

Messing with an Italian classic is not something we often do, but we saw Yotam Ottolenghi doing a Za'atar Cacio e Pepe, and we knew we had to create our own recipe. This recipe doesn't take anything away from the original dish. All it does is add a layer of delicious herbiness that goes hand in hand with the pepper and the cheese.

The technique for getting your cacio e pepe right is not complicated, but you must follow it to a T if you want to get a rich and smooth sauce. Using a wide pan and little water to cook the pasta is essential because it ensures there is a lot of starch in the water, which is the key to getting the sauce to emulsify.

Grate the pecorino as finely as possible, and keep it separated to make sure it melts happily into the sauce. Finally, have everything measured out before you begin cooking; it all happens rather quickly after that.

5 minutes
15 minutes


320 g (11 oz) spaghetti or bucatini
50 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter
10 g (1 tablespoon) za'atar, plus 6 g (1½ teaspoon)
7 g (2 teaspoons) freshly ground black pepper
160 g (4½ oz) pecorino romano cheese, very finely grated
Olive oil
6 g (2 teaspoons) whole marjoram leaves (optional)

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  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water as you drain the pasta.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, high-sided, nonstick sauté pan on high heat until bubbling, then add the za'atar and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant.
  3. Add the reserved cooking water, bring to a rapid boil, and cook for 5 minutes, until silky and reduced a little. Add the pasta and stir vigorously into the sauce. Add the pecorino in two batches, continuing to stir vigorously as you go and waiting until the first half has melted before adding the next. Continue to stir until it has also melted and the sauce is smooth and silky.
  4. Transfer the pasta to a lipped platter and finish with the olive oil, marjoram (if using), remaining 6 g (1½ teaspoon) za'atar, and a small pinch of salt. Serve at once.
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