Easy Vegan Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper)! Great for impromptu pasta nights, this humble and hearty pasta dish is popping with flavor.
This Easy Vegan Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) is a delicious and healthy nod to the traditional Italian dish. Easy to make, lower in fat, and packed with tons of peppery flavor, this dish is perfect for busy weeknight dinners.
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
My brother, Chris, was all about this dish. He sent Mom an email asking if we had converted the traditional Cacio e Pepe to WFPB yet. We had not done so, and of course, we love a challenge.
Honestly, the cashew butter really makes this dish. Cashew butter is pretty much a neutral nut butter, offering a rich indulgence without overpowering the flavor like an almond butter would do. We used only 1 Tablespoon as we were trying to reduce the fat as much as possible with this dish.
Use freshly cracked black pepper, it does make a difference. The flavor is superior than already ground black pepper. We loved this dish. Dad and Yasmeen devoured it! You gotta give this one a try!
Tips for Success:
- Flavor Profile: Traditional Italian Cacio e Pepe is made with Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses and black pepper. Cacio e pepe literally means cheese and pepper. This WFPB version is lower in fat and the sauce is much thinner. Black pepper is the primary flavor component, so if you are not a black pepper fan, then skip this recipe.
- Freshly Cracked Black Pepper: We strongly suggest using freshly cracked black pepper as when you grind peppercorns in your own pepper mill, you expose the sealed un-oxidized center releasing all of the rich flavor and a variety of benefits. For this reason, is why freshly cracked pepper tastes so much better than pepper that has already been ground. Additionally, some peppercorns have no heat while others really pack some heat, test the heat level by tasting a tiny amount. If unsure, start on the low end and build from there.
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice: The taste of a freshly squeezed lemon is superior to bottled lemon juice. We tend to use bottled lemon juice quite a bit in the winter, but for this recipe, freshly squeezed lemons is the way to go. ½ of a lemon generally gives you about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice. If you use bottled lemon juice, then start on the lower side (2 teaspoons) and add more as needed.
- Sauce: Initially, the sauce will be very thin and watery. That is because we are only using 1 tablespoon of cashew butter to keep the fat content on the lower side. As the sauce and pasta sit for 10 minutes off the burner, the sauce will start to thicken as it slightly cools. The longer it sits, the thicker the sauce will become.
- Reserved Pasta Water: This is the water that is used to boil the pasta. It is a starchy water which helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Don’t forget to pull the water off right before you drain the pasta.
- Cashew Butter Substitutes: You can try other nut or seed butters with the understanding that the texture and flavor will change accordingly. We feel cashew butter is superior to any alternatives for this recipe.
- Rinsing the Pasta: If using a gluten free pasta, rinse the pasta in cold water to remove any excess starches. Gluten free pasta tends to be excessively starchy. Rinsing also helps retain some of the pasta integrity as some gluten free pastas tend to be fragile. Most Italians would cringe at the thought of rinsing pasta, but it works perfectly when using GF spaghetti.
- Pasta of choice: Please feel free to use your favorite Whole Food Plant Based spaghetti or noodle for this dish.
- Cooking the Pasta: Do not overcook the pasta, cook it right up to before it hits the al dente stage. It will finish cooking in the sauce.
- Low-Fat Dish Expectations: This dish was designed to be low in fat. Because it is low in fat, you are not going to experience that endorphin rush associated with eating high-fat foods when eating this dish. It is very tasty for what it is, and that is a low-fat dish. We just want to make sure that our Readers recognize this when contemplating making this recipe. If you wish to make it more indulgent, add the Vegan Parmesan Cheese on individual servings. The vegan parmesan cheese totally takes it over the top.
- Sea Salt: Our family was completed divided over the amount of sea salt for this dish. Start on the low side since miso paste can be salty, build up from there.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
This dish can be frozen; however, it is best if served immediately after making or after refrigerating leftovers. Pasta does tend to get a little mushy after freezing.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Miso: We used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Premium Lite Miso, Certified Gluten Free. Miso really lends itself to balancing flavors when you don’t use oil. You can also use chickpea miso for a soy free version.
- Cashew Butter: We used Artisana Organic Raw Vegan Cashew Butter. Feel free to use your favorite raw cashew butter in this recipe. Read the label, make sure the only ingredient is raw cashews. Do not use a salted or sweetened cashew butter.
Kitchen Products Used:
- Stock pot
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.Print
This Easy Vegan Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) is a delicious and healthy nod to the traditional Italian dish.
- 2 cups reserved hot pasta water *
- ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tablespoon white miso paste*
- 1 Tablespoon cashew butter *
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice *
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon sea salt *
- ¼ to ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper *
- 1 lb. spaghetti *
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Freshly chopped parsley
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Fill a large stock pot full of water. Add a little sea salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil then add the spaghetti. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Boil the spaghetti until almost al dente.
- Remove 2 cups of hot pasta water, set aside.
- Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch (only if using gluten free pasta), shake well, set aside.
- Place the empty pasta cooking pot back on the stove. Then place the Sauce Mixture Ingredients (including the reserved 2 cups of hot pasta water) into the empty pot, and heat over medium-high heat until the sauce comes to a low boil, whisking constantly until all the cashew butter and miso have dissolved smoothly into the sauce, then immediately lower the heat. Simmer for several minutes.
- Next add the cooked spaghetti to the pot with the sauce. Gently turn the spaghetti over until all the spaghetti is coated in the sauce. Simmer over low heat and continue to cook the spaghetti for several minutes until al dente.
- Remove from the pot from the heat and allow to sit and slightly cool for 10 minutes. Then serve with an additional sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper, freshly chopped parsley, and Vegan Parmesan Cheese on individual servings.
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