Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe with NO CARB Zucchini Noodles


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


Yesterday was national cheese day.  Did you know that?  My boyfriend, Miles, declared that to be true yesterday and, upon investigation, I found him to be correct.  So – time for a cheese-based recipe!!!  Behold!  Cacio e Pepe!

Cacio e Pepe just means cheese & pepper.  And that is literally all you are supposed to add to a traditional spaghetti cacio e pepe.  I tend to find alfredos and such FAR to rich for my tastes & I very seldom make cream-heavy sauces.  This dish, however, uses no heavy cream.  No additional dairy beyond the finest pecorino you can find.  The ingredients are:




How can you beat that for simplicity?  You can’t.  And if you can find a pepper pecorino like this one:


…well, now you are down to TWO ingredients.

Still, I thought I wanted to update this dish a bit & still cut into the calorie count involved.  My thought was to do it using only zucchini noodles like these:


The problem with that idea, though, is that zucchini noodles do not stand up to cooking beyond a quick blanching or they get soggy.  They require a hot sauce on them to soften them – if you are using them to mock spaghetti, as I intended to do here.   I used them once before in my

DECADENT Vegan NO CARB Summer Pasta with Zucchini Noodles, Avocado, Asparagus & Peas


But I ran into the same issue there as with my cacio e pepe endeavor – that my sauce was not hot.  Plain, grated pecorino requires the heat of the freshly cooked pasta (and a bit of the hot pasta water) to melt the cheese & create the luscious creaminess this dish is famous for.  So – I just used equal parts whole wheat spaghetti & zucchini noodles to cut down on the carb impact.  You can leave the zucchini out entirely to no ill effect.  Either way – this is one of the easiest, yummiest & most elegant pastas I have ever eaten.  Even a total kitchen novice can pull this one off so no excuses!



Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe with NO CARB Zucchini Noodles


1 LB dry spaghetti

5 large zucchinis (optional)

8 oz (or more) HIGH QUALITY pecorino

Fresh ground pepper – and lots of it!


Extra pecorino or Parmesan for garnish (optional)



Using a grating tool like this:


or with a mandolin or spiralizer – create the noodles from the zucchini.  No need to use the ends or seeded centers.  Drain in a colander with a bit of salt mixed in.


Grate the pecorino.


Cook the pasta according to directions.  Add the zucchini in the last minute.  Put a large mixing bowl over the pasta pot in the last thirty seconds or so to warm it.  Do not BURN yourself!

Reserve a little hot pasta water & then drain the pasta & zucchini.  Add to the warmed bowl & top with the cheese.  Stir it all around until the cheese is completely melted & incorporated.  You might need to add a bit of the hot pasta water – maybe not.


Serve with a shite-load of freshly ground pepper.  Be impressed with yourself.



3 thoughts on “Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe with NO CARB Zucchini Noodles

  1. Christine: Just to let you know that you are one of my very fave food bloggers! So many of the low cal/carb writers seem to have lost their taste for really good food in favor of convincing the reader that the featured low cal/carb recipe is better than it is. You seem to have a great feel for dishes that are low carb/cal but remain respectful of good ingredients on an honest palate. Well done!


  2. Pingback: Best 20 Carbs In Spaghetti Noodles – Home, Family, Style and Art Ideas

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