Zoodles Cacio e Pepe

July 20, 2015

Zoodles Cacio e Pepe




I like to think of myself as a smart person, but I guess we all make bonehead errors from time to time.
Yesterday despite a heat advisory, I went for a run.
We were well into the red zone where heat exhaustion and heat stroke could occur.
You know, one of those summer days when the thermometer reads 92º, but it feels like standing in the pits of hell — thanks a lot humidity!
The news advised people to stay indoors and avoid strenuous activities, warning that “if you have to be outside, be sure to schedule frequent rest breaks in an air conditioned or shaded place!

Grana Padano




But since I wouldn't skip my daily run, just like I wouldn't skip brushing my teeth, I ignored all the warnings and hit the pavement.
I took some precautions such as running my hair under the water to allow for some initial cooling and carrying a water bottle. I also decided to run just 10k and at a slower pace than usual.
Still, I can’t remember the last time I sweated so much while running. By the end I had sweated through every single stitch of my t-shirt and running shorts.
Even my shoes were soaked from the sweat running down my legs. They squished with every step.
It felt like I had jumped in a pool with my clothes on. A pool filled my own sweat.
I’m not complaining about it though: I’d made my own sweaty bed. Now I had to lie in it.

Pepper Grinder




Anyways, I got home, stretched for a while, showered, and then...a huge craving for PASTA, and CHEESE. Mac & Cheese if you catch my drift.
Do you ever just want Mac & Cheese? I typically don’t. But during heatwaves bizarre things happen. Like craving warm comfort food instead of salads and smoothies.

Zoodles Cacio e Pepe




But instead of Mac & Cheese, I made myself some Pasta Cacio e Pepe, which is like a stripped-down Mac & Cheese.
Cacio e Pepe — literally “cheese and pepper” — is a pantry meal at its finest. So fundamentally simple and unfussy, yet so delicious.
In the traditional Roman way, the Cacio cheese is used. But Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, and/or Grana Padano will do — or even a combination of them.
Other than the cheese, all you need is copious amounts of black pepper, a bit of olive oil, and spaghetti — or in my case zoodles.
The beauty of Cacio e Pepe is its simplicity and the flavor that comes from it.
It is among the most basic, simplest pastas there is, but when Cacio e Pepe is made right, it’s incredible. Even more so when it's made with healthy, gluten-free, crunchy, and delicious zoodles. Trust.

Zoodles Cacio e Pepe


Zoodles Cacio e Pepe                                                                                                  Print this recipe!

A couple of notes. It’s almost impossible to make a bad Cacio e Pepe, however one thing that happens frequently is the cheese clumping together and hardening into strings.
Usually that occurs because the water used to make the cream is too hot.
In addition, you really do need to beat and toss the cheese and water together vigorously for quite some time.
I like to use a combination of Grana/Parmesan and Pecorino - I've found using only Pecorino a tad overwhelming. I let you be the judge of that.

Ingredients
Serves 4

6 zucchinis
¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino
1 tablespoon ground black pepper, plus more for finishing the dish
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Using a spiralizer create zucchini noodles (always read the directions for your spiral slicer as they vary by brand - I use this spiralizer.) If you don't have a spiralizer use a regular vegetable peeler to vertically peel long, thin strips of the zucchini. This will form more of a wider "noodle" from the zucchini, like fettuccini.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add zucchini noodles and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until zucchini noodles are tender but still retain some crunch.
Let the noodles rest for about 3 minutes so that they can release all of the moisture. Transfer noodles to a bowl and reserve the excess water in a small bowl.
In another large bowl combine the cheeses and black pepper; add just enough zoodle water to make a thick paste.
Add zoodles, and stir vigorously to coat them with the cheese-pepper sauce, adding some olive oil and a bit of zoodles water to thin the sauce if necessary.
The sauce should cling to the zoodles and be creamy but not watery.
If the zoodles are not hot enough, heat them in the pan for a couple of minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and pepper and serve immediately.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 247 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of protein.

28 comments:

  1. Alpha! What's up with the working out in the 132% humidity? Hah! I was thinking the same thing during our spin class at the gym this morning. It felt like I was working out in the middle of the rainforest...under a waterfall. I could totally have used some of these zoodles at about 7am this year...where were you?? #WolfpackWeatherMan

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    1. The thing is, wolves cant live in the rainforest. We should start considering migrating!
      #WolfpackMoving

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  2. So the humidity is Coast to Coast! I have never seen or heard such thunder and lightning as we experienced this past weekend and the rain... Crazy. Props to you for running and staying on track with your fitness! I would have passed... Love this Mac & Cheese switch with the zoodles, I would mack this in a heartbeat. Stay hydrated out there!

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    1. I've heard on the news that 0.3 inches of rain in July in LA is a record. I had to laugh a little...
      :)

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  3. Hi Mike, I don't like the heat so kudos to you for still sticking it out. Great dish!

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  4. Yesterday, going to the gym on such a sweltering day, I didn't believe I would be able to stay more than for half an hour (it's been quite hot inside for a couple of weeks so I anticipated it would be even worse). However, surprisingly temperature was very comfortable and even enjoyable. Plus, there were just a few folks - I guess they had the same concerns haha. Now, seriously, you've got the great stuff going here. Honestly, I still remember the previous zucchini noodles. And I haven't got a spiralizer yet. Shame on me, right?

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    1. You said it, SHAME ON YOU Ben. You must get a spiralizer, now!

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  5. Mike, please tell me that you ate the full amount, not just 1/4 of it.... and that you had other stuff with it... I am getting dizzy just thinking about such a light meal after a 10k run in the heat, even if at a slower pace....

    Looks awesome, though - I eat zoodles quite often, never thought of making a sauce with the water released... genius!

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    1. You know what Sally? I ate just 1/4. Seriously...

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  6. Yum! I love your photos!
    http://xoxobella.com/

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  7. I still need to try zoodles! Ordering a spiralizer ASAP :) This looks amazing- pinning.

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    1. I don't think you can't wait any longer Medha. You need a spiralizer in your life!

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  8. This sounds like what my run will be like today! And, I'd love to come home to this for dinner afterward. Love my spiralizer. Can't wait to use it for this!

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    1. I've found that spiralizing is the best post-run activity. I know it sounds insane, but it truly is :D

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  9. Geebua, mate! The Sunday/Monday was the first 'hot' part of NY I felt and man, I nearly died just sitting down. I can't even picture running too. Lucky you had this to faceplant!

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    1. NYC can be quite toasty but I've experienced Sydney in January and it was BRUTAL, really BRUTAL!

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  10. Made this tonight: YUM.
    Thank you so much for yet another amazing recipe!

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  11. Considering how much I love zucchini, it's odd that I haven't tried zoodles, yet! I will definitely be changing that! I even feel guilty saying that I haven't tried them, but my guilt will soon be put to an end because I HAVE to try this recipe! :D

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  12. The last time I made Cacio e Pepe was camping in Glacier National Park after a 20 mile hike - something about extreme exercise really makes me crave pasta like nothing else! Since I'm overrun with zucchini right now, I know exactly what I'm making for dinner now (no pasta needed)!

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  13. You need a pat on your shoulder for being such a beast in the kitchen and health and runs. Awesome job. I'd definitely love some of this after a run.

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  14. So I made this last night for dinner, and it was super delicious - so easy to make an really satisfying in a the best comfort food kind of way!

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  15. I haven't been doing anything fancy with zoodles - just make some meat sauce and top it. And....we're getting bored from it! This looks like a delicious way to change things up.

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  16. Hummm que contenta estoy de haber encontrado tu blog!!!. A buen seguro que aprenderé mucho de ti.
    SALUDOS AMISTOSOS:)))))
    Conxita tedeternura.com

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