This version of caccia e peppe, or cheese with pepper pasta, came about last spring when I had a lot of oregano that needed a trim.
Above: oregano and lettuces growing in a repurposed box frame
Below: freshly harvested oregano, mint, basil, and cilantro
I also had a few tomatoes, Vidalia onions, and garlic. I chopped them as I would for a salsa fresca and sautéed them in olive oil with some fresh oregano, salt, and pepper. It simmered on low heat for a bit while the pasta boiled.
For the pasta, I chose angel hair pasta, a slightly skinnier version capellini.
After boiling the pasta for a whole 4 minutes to hit the al dente stage of doneness, it was drained. (At this point, it is wise to save some of the salted pasta water to use if needed in the dish. )
The drained pasta was added to the sauce with gratuitous amounts of parmesan cheese and black pepper. Even more fresh oregano and a bit of basil was added right before plating–after the cheese had begun melting and mingling nicely with the olive oil-based sauce. If I hadn’t been out of mushrooms, I totally would have added some….
A bit more parmesan sprinkled over the top is not a bad thing either…
-Pasta (often capellini or spaghetti)
-Water and salt (follow package directions for cooking the pasta)
-Olive oil and/or butter–approximately 2 tablespoons total
-Ground black pepper to taste
-A cup (or more) of Grated hard cheese (parmesan, Asiago, etc.)
-About a cup and a half total of chopped tomatoes and onions and a tablespoon chopped garlic (or just use salsa fresca or pico de gallo)
-A handful if fresh, chopped herbs that you enjoy (or need to use…) Suggestions are basil, oregano, parsley, and perhaps a bit of mint
Thoroughly wash all fresh herbs and vegetables before chopping them.
Prepare pasta in salted boiling water to al dente. (Al dente means “to the tooth.”) While the pasta cooks, simmer your tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a bit of olive in a small skillet or pan to help take the edge off of the garlic and bring out the onions natural sweetness.
Drain pasta and reserve some of the water.
Return pasta to pan with a bit of the pasta water and a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter or olive oil.
Toss it all together.
Add grated cheese and black pepper. Toss together until sauce the looks smooth and creamy. Add the tomato, garlic, and onions.
Top with fresh herbs and even more grated cheese. Serve and enjoy!