Peppery and oh, so cheesy, this spring vegetable cacio e pepe is the perfect springtime comfort food. Oh, what a longggggg weekend I had. And I mean that in the worst sense of long. lol
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my Stories and know about the accident I was in last Friday night. For those of you who don’t, let me quickly fill you in. I was hit by the driver’s side mirror of a big pick-up truck while crossing the street. The truck was making a sharp turn and didn’t see Steve or I crossing the street (and we didn’t see them coming either) and BAM. My head was whacked by the truck’s mirror. I was basically in a state of shock the rest of the night and vacillated between hysterical laughter (omg did that really just happen?) and ugly crying (omg it really did just happen). I think the scariest part for me was what could have been. If the car turned two seconds sooner or we were walking two seconds behind, the truck easily would’ve ran me (or both of us) over. Also, the driver never stopped and got out to see if I was okay, which really pisses me off. We filed a police report but unless there are cameras at that intersection, I doubt they’ll find her.
Physically, I’m fine. We went to the ER and they suspected I have a mild concussion but nothing worse. With the concussion, I’ve noticed I’m more sensitive to light and sound but I haven’t had any other significant symptoms. Emotionally, I’ve been up and down. I was really depressed the morning and day after it happened. And I’ve been anxious too. Looking forward to talking all about what happened with my therapist this week. I’m not an expert on PTSD but I definitely feel some emotional aftermath in the wake of the accident.I took a break from social media over the weekend after what happened because I needed to rest and heal and I knew watching what everyone was doing over the holiday weekend was not going to help me. And the break was really refreshing. I was able to read and take walks and hang out with Steve without feeling compelled to “check-in.” It’s crazy how much of a difference disconnecting makes.
And in light of the weekend craziness, Steve and I took full advantage to cook delicious things that would make us both smile and feel better. Sorry, let me correct myself. Steve cooked. I watched. Need to give him full credit for that one and for taking care of me all weekend. He made delicious steak gyros, which are going to become a regular weeknight staple, and another night he made burgers and we had a mango, avocado and jicama salad and corn on the cob to go with. We also had a couple ice cream dates over the weekend too.I was listening to a old Food Psych episode today with Isabel Foxen Duke about emotional eating and she was like we need to stop looking at emotional eating as good or bad, it’s just neutral, it’s just another coping mechanism. This weekend, there was some emotional eating. There were also walks in nature. And good long cries. And lots of hugs. And lot of sleep. My point is food was one of my coping mechanisms among several others. There’s nothing wrong with turning to food to help comfort and soothe as long as it’s not the only coping mechanism you have.
Also, can I just quickly say how glad I am that it’s ice cream weather again?! 🙂
Speaking of comfort foods, this meal is one of my favoriteeees. Nothing says comfort like pasta & cheese. I first learned about cacio e pepe having dinner with my RD crush Ellie Krieger a few years back. Cacio e pepe is an Italian pasta dish that means “cheese and pepper”. That’s it! The sauce is that simple – black pepper, Parmesan and Romano cheese, and some reserved pasta water. Done. Finito. Bon appetito.
Seriously though, I’m all about the simple dishes that call for just a handful of ingredients and can be made with ease and with a glass of vino in hand. This is one of those dishes. So I decided to give the ol’ cacio e pepe a makeover just in time for spring and all of its seasonal produce glory. Add asparagus, artichoke hearts and fava beans (or peas if you can’t find them) and any other spring veggies your heart desires. I love the combination of the spicy black pepper and umami from the cheese. And when you twirl the pasta and lift it up, you get those ooey, gooey cheesy strands hanging from the fork, which is just one of the best sights in the world if you ask me. Although I’m very happy with my version, I don’t hate that I’ll be going to Italy in September to taste the real deal :).
And last but not least, thank you to everyone who has called, texted and DM’d me about what happened. I’m overwhelmed by the love and support of my family and friends. I feel very lucky in so many different ways. XO
- 1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano
- 1/2 cup peas (or fava beans)
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Transfer asparagus to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water before draining.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, add black pepper and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer.
- Add pasta and remaining butter and Parmesan, and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and add pecorino, tossing until pasta is coated with the cheesy sauce. If the pasta seems dry, add the remaining pasta water. Add asparagus, peas or fava, and artichoke hearts, and toss to combine.
If using fresh fava beans: Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add fava beans and blanch for 1 minute. Transfer the beans to ice cold water and let sit for a few minutes. When fava beans have cooled completely, remove from the ice bath and peel off shells.
This recipe was originally published May 2014. It’s been revamped to give you the most delicious and beautiful content possible!
For more asparagus themed recipes, check out the recipes below:
I’m a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.