Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe pasta

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) is a simple, yet delicious way to serve pasta.  It is a typical dish from Rome, and can be served with spaghetti, linguine, or even short pasta such as rigatoni.

On this occasion, I made Linguine Cacio e Pepe.

Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients – Linguine Cacio e Pepe for 4 people

  • 500g Linguine
  • 200g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper
  • Drop of oil and fistful of salt for the pasta cooking water

Method

Put a large pan with water, a drop of oil and a fistful of salt on the hob and bring to the boil.  I usually advocate using the largest possible stockpot style pan for pasta cooking, but this recipe works best if you have very starchy water, so use a slightly smaller (but still ample) pan / less water than you usually would for pasta.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, stir after a minute or so, and occasionally during cooking, to ensure it doesn’t stick together.

While the pasta is cooking, finely grate the pecorino cheese.  The key to this recipe is the cheese.  Make sure you use a good quality pecorino romano and that you grate it as finely as you can – this will enable you to create the creamy sauce.  If the cheese is too coarsely grated, it won’t go creamy and will clump instead.

Grind plenty of black pepper into the pecorino.  How much you use, will depend on taste, but you are ideally aiming for a speckled look to the cheese, and for a good peppery kick to the sauce.

Once the pasta is nearly cooked (about a minute before it’s done), take a bit of water out of the pan with a ladle and stir it into the cheese with a fork.  Add a bit at a time (half a ladle or less) and stir each time, until you achieve the desired creamy consistency.

Cacio e pepe - the creamy 'sauce' consistency

This is what you are aiming for with the pecorino, pepper and cooking water.

Once the pasta is cooked, nicely ‘al dente’, drain it and immediately stir it through the cheese.

Serve onto pasta bowls and, if you wish, add a bit more freshly-ground black pepper.

Cacio e pepe pasta.  Gloriously Simple.  Gloriously Good! 

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Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low-Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

I had the idea for this roasted courgette and sweet pepper soup when I made the roasted sweet pepper sauce.   This soup variation is delicious, rich, filling and low-fat, as well as reflux*-friendly.

Although it takes a little bit of time to make (not too much time), it is actually a very easy recipe.

If you are a reflux sufferer who does not tolerate garlic, simply leave it out of the recipe.  The soup will still taste delicious as the other ingredients pack a powerful flavour punch!   For those around your dinner table who do not suffer from reflux, this soup is delicious with the addition of a sprinkling of ground chilli flakes (these can be added to individual portions so everyone can have the soup as spicy – or not – as they wish).

Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

Ingredients (for 8 generous portions as a main meal)

  • 10 peppers (mixture of red, orange and yellow – red and orange are tastier, in my opinion, than yellow, so I use more of those)
  • 8 large courgettes
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • a generous sprinkling of dried oregano
  • sea salt
  • 1l chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian / vegan alternative) – I use Knorr Chicken Stock Pots (2, dissolved in 1l boiling water)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 220°C (fan).

Cut the courgettes into quarters lengthways, then cut each length into roughly 1.5cm pieces.  Place into a large roasting tin (you may need to spread these over two roasting tins, as there will be quite a lot to start with), drizzle 2tbsp olive oil over the top, add a light sprinkling of sea salt and a generous sprinkling of oregano (how much oregano you use depends on how much you like the taste).

De-seed and cut the peppers into large chunks.  Remove all the garlic cloves from their bulbs, removing any excess/loose ‘skin’, without peeling the garlic cloves.  Lightly squash the cloves, using the side of a large knife and pressure from the palm of your hand – enough to burst the skins a little and flatten the cloves a bit, but not enough to peel the cloves or break them up.  Place the peppers into a large roasting tin (or two, depending on the size of your tins!), drizzle 2tbsp olive oil over the top, add a light sprinkling of sea salt and a generous sprinkling of oregano (how much oregano you use depends on how much you like the taste).

Place your tins in the oven (you may need to do this in stages if you can’t fit them all in at once).  Roast for approximately 40 minutes, mixing halfway through cooking.  You are aiming for the vegetables to be very well cooked and soft, with blackened bits, and for the garlic cloves to have gone very soft.

Put the roasted courgettes (and any remaining roasting juices) into a blender, add just a little bit of chicken stock (enough to aid the blending process) and blend to desired consistency (I like to leave a little bit of courgette texture so I don’t blend it to a completely smooth consistency, but almost).  Transfer the resulting purée into a large pan / stockpot.

Tip: If you are doing this while it is still hot, ensure the jug on your blender is heat proof, that the jug is not over-full (do in batches if needed) and that the removable centre section of the lid is removed.  Before you start blending, place the lid (with the hole in the top) firmly on the jug, then loosely hold a tea towel folded into a square over the hole.  Doing this will ensure that steam can escape and that your hot sauce doesn’t burst out of the blender.

Repeat the process with the peppers and garlic, including skins.  Do not pour the blended peppers directly into the blended courgettes, but pour them into a fine sieve resting above the courgette ‘soup’.  Do this in small batches and, using a spoon, stir the sauce so that it can go through the sieve, leaving behind only the tiny pieces of garlic and pepper skins. Keep doing this until you have sieved the entire contents of the blender and you cannot push any more pulp through the sieve. Use the rest of the chicken or vegetable stock stock to ‘wash out’ the blender jug and get every drop of this delicious roasted sweet pepper purée into your bowl.

Stir the courgette and pepper purées well to ensure they are completely mixed together.  Taste and, if required, adjust seasoning by adding salt.  The roasted courgette and sweet pepper soup will be quite thick, so you can add additional stock to make it runnier, if you prefer.

You can make this in advance and then re-heat it in a pan.  Serve hot with delicious fresh bread of your choice!

Any leftovers (if there are any!) can be refrigerated or frozen to be eaten another day in its soup form or used as a sauce for pasta, fish, and meat.

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Low Fat, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet. 

Roasted sweet pepper sauce | finished product

Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce | Tomato Substitute | Reflux Recipe | Low-Fat | Low-Cal

Using a Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce is a good alternative to using tomatoes,

but this sauce is much more than a tomato substitute!

Roasted sweet pepper sauce | finished product

This roasted sweet pepper sauce is versatile and can be used as the base for soups, meat-based sauces, or on its own.  It’s so delicious, I was struggling to keep my daughter’s hands off it after I’d made it, even though I needed it to use in another recipe.

I started off by wanting to make a sauce using peppers as a substitute for tomatoes.  The jury is still out on whether tomatoes set off my reflux or not (acidity-wise, they’re above a pH of 4, so they should be ok for most reflux sufferers, but they’re one of those foods that trigger reflux for many, even though they’re strictly-speaking ok in terms of acidity), but I wanted to come up with an alternative that would be safe for most reflux sufferers*.  And besides, I love the taste and smell of peppers!

This sauce is easy to make but does take a little bit of time and a bit of effort.

Ingredients for approximately 800ml of sauce (this will depend on the size of the peppers, how much water they hold through the roasting process etc – it’s not exact):

  • 8 large peppers (mixture of red, orange, yellow)
  • 8 cloves of garlic (if you have reflux and garlic affects you, you can use herbs instead – choose your herbs based on what you’ll use the sauce with, for example rosemary or thyme for chicken dishes, parsley for fish dishes, oregano for many pasta dishes & soups etc)
  • a sprinkling of sea salt
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • Optional: chicken or vegetable stock – just enough to ‘wash out’ the blender at the end and avoid waste…this also dilutes the very thick sauce a little

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (fan-assisted).

Lightly crush the garlic with the side of a large knife (using pressure from the palm of your hand) – leave the skins on.  Crush it just enough for the skin to burst.

De-seed the peppers and cut them into large chunks (about 2 square cm).

Place the peppers and garlic into a large oven-proof (ideally non-stick) dish, drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Stir.

Roast in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, until the peppers and garlic are soft (some of the garlic may have burst out of its skins – that’s ok), stirring halfway through.  It’s ok if some of the peppers go a little black around the edges.  It adds to the roasted flavour.

Place everything, garlic skins included, into a blender.

Tip: If you are doing this while it is still hot, ensure the jug on your blender is heat proof, that the jug is not over-full (do in batches if needed) and that the removable centre section of the lid is removed.  Before you start blending, place the lid (with the hole in the top) firmly on the jug, then loosely hold a tea towel folded into a square over the hole.  Doing this will ensure that steam can escape and that your hot sauce doesn’t burst out of the blender.

Place a fine sieve over a bowl and pour in the sauce from the blender.  Do this in small batches and, using a spoon, stir the sauce so that it can go through the sieve, leaving behind only the tiny pieces of garlic and pepper skins. Keep doing this until you have sieved the entire sauce and you cannot push any more pulp through the sieve.  The sauce in the bowl should be quite thick and velvety.

Roasted sweet pepper sauce | Stages of cooking

Optional: Use a bit of chicken or vegetable stock to ‘wash out’ the blender jug and get every drop of this delicious roasted sweet pepper sauce into your bowl.

The sauce is now ready for you to use or refrigerate/freeze for later use.

Gloriously simple, Gloriously Low-Fat, Gloriously Low-Cal, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet.