The Classic Pasta Dish Martha Stewart Swears By For A Quick Dinner

Martha Stewart smiling
Martha Stewart smiling - Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

When she's not hanging out with Snoop Dogg or posing for Sports Illustrated, Martha Stewart is crafting some of the best dishes of her generation. But the legendary chef doesn't just invent recipes of her own; she, like most foodies, loves to prepare some of the classics. Delicious as the classics are — from burgers to BLTs and chicken noodle soup — they often require some elbow grease. Despite being a world-renowned chef capable of perfecting complicated recipes, even Stewart likes to lean into some timeless dishes that require minimal effort. In an interview with Business Insider, the powerhouse chef revealed that a classic cacio e pepe is her go-to lazy girl meal.

Cacio e pepe is an iconic Italian pasta dish that translates to "cheese and pepper." If the name alone didn't give it away, cacio e pepe is a no-frills dish that requires only three ingredients (four, if you count water) — spaghetti noodles, cheese, and black pepper. All you have to do is boil noodles and introduce the cheese and black pepper — et voila — your cacio e pepe is ready faster than you can say lo adoro (I love it)! And because it's made with such simple and adaptable ingredients, cacio e pepe pairs well with a wide variety of proteins, greens, side dishes, and beverages. Plus, this easy-to-make recipe can be prepared in just one pot, limiting the amount of cleaning you have to do at the end of your dinner.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Person looking at cooked noodles
Person looking at cooked noodles - Just Life/Shutterstock

Cacio e pepe is easy to make as it is. However, with the right tools and ingredients, you can make this crave-curbing meal even easier.

If you have an electric kettle, fire it up. Instead of waiting for water to boil over the stove, you can have piping hot water twice as fast by using an electric kettle and transferring it to your pot. Investing in a pasta pot with a built-in strainer insert will simplify the draining process, too. Instead of using a separate colander, you can lift the insert to drain the pasta directly from the pot. At the very least, consider using a non-stick pot to reduce the amount of cheesy residue that may cling to its edges.

Cheese is a central ingredient in cacio e pepe. As critical as it is, however, shredding cheese is one extra step in the cooking process that can be eliminated by using pre-shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. Simply pop the bag open, sprinkle it into your pot, and get to eating.

Although it's not glamorous, enjoying cacio e pepe right out of the pot you cook it in will save you from having to wash a bowl. Cooking, cleaning, and eating out of just one pot — that's a tasty way to kill three birds with one stone.

Cacio e pepe on white plate
Cacio e pepe on white plate - Vladislav Chusov/Shutterstock

Although cacio e pepe can be spruced up by the addition of spicy shrimp, succulent chicken breast, or roasted vegetables, you're not here to read about complicated multi-step recipes. However, if you're craving a little more than Parmesan and pepper, there are some ways to jazz up the peppery pasta dish without breaking your back along the way.

To add a nutritious edge to cacio e pepe, top it with some ready-to-eat, pre-washed, and bagged veggies. Spinach can add a refreshing, earthy, vegetal twist to the richness of the cheese, while arugula can bolster its peppery bravado. Simply pop the bag open and sprinkle a fistful over your final product.

We're sure we don't have to convince you that garlic belongs in any recipe, including cacio e pepe. To avoid the tedious and sometimes sticky process of peeling and chopping fresh garlic, throw in some minced garlic from a jar to achieve a satisfyingly savory element to the dish.

To give the creamy, velvety pasta a textural contrast, dust Italian breadcrumbs over the final product for some endlessly crunchy and herbaceous forkfuls. Though it does take a little bit more time than adding them to the pasta straight from the bag, toasting breadcrumbs on the stove can give them a warm and cozy edge.

One of many easy dinner recipes for busy weeknights, cacio e pepe is among the best. And just because it's easy, doesn't mean it's boring, just ask Martha Stewart.

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