Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe
     One of the things I love about the Roman-Laziale kitchen is the use of simple ingredients that make amazing food that is full of flavor.  I could say the same thing about my own personal vegan kitchen.   I spend most of my kitchen time bringing out the best flavors of fruits and vegetables.    I don’t really do a lot of substitution cooking because I like to eat a mostly whole foods diet.  I do eat tofu, but that is because I really love the taste, texture and flavor of tofu, not because I am trying to substitute meat. 
     Most of my non-vegan friends in Italy tell me that the reason they are not vegan is because they love all the cheeses of Italy.  In fact there is an abundance of cheese made from the milk of sheep, goats, cows and even water buffalo.  Not for me, thanks.  In Rome, the cheese that is sprinkled on top of pasta is not parmigiano but pecorino and one of the most simple and tasty dishes is called Cacio e Pepe, cheese and pepper.  It is best with a long pasta like spaghetti, but if you want it to be really Roman, get some bucatini.  It is like tube spaghetti.  The word cacao is referring to cheese, even though in Italian, the word formaggio, is closer to the French.  Cacio is derived from the Latin word casio, which means cheese.  Cacio e Pepe is a very poor Roman dish, and it is VERY easily veganized.  All it consists of is olive oil,  pecorino romano,  and fresh black pepper. 
Ingredients for 4 people
For the( Un) Pecorino Romano
   200 g of blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon agar agar POWDER
1/2 tablespoon Celtic sea salt (NEVER table salt, not even cheap sea salt from the grocer)
3 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper to crush
One package of Bucatini or Spaghetti
     In a food processor almonds, nutritional yeast, agar agar, and salt until blended very well with no chunks of almonds or salt.  In a large pot, boil water, add salt when water is boiled and add the pasta.  When the pasta is al dente, drain and place back into the pot.  Add the contents of the food processor, about 2 tbsp of crush black pepper and the olive oil, also about 2TBSP of the starchy water saved from boiling the pasta.  Stir all of the ingredients together until the pasta is covered in the sauce.  serve in small pasta bowls and add more crushed black pepper as desired. 
    Enjoy with a bottle of Lazio Malvasia. 
Buon Appetito!