I’m not much for food fads and cringe at descriptions that start in ‘low’ or end in ‘free,’ but for zucchini noodles (zoodles) I’ve gladly made an exception. I love that I can swap them in to my favorite pasta recipes (like Cacio e Pepe!) when I want to lighten them up.
I’ve found that I prefer to combine them with actual pasta. So if a recipe calls for 12 ounces of pasta, I’ll use 6 ounces and 3 or 4 zucchini. The zucchini noodles add heft and body, kind of like TVP but less mysterious.
In Italian, ‘Cacio e Pepe’ means simply “cheese and pepper.” So really I should call this Cacio e Pepe e Burro (cheese and pepper and butter), because butter makes everything better.
There are endless ways to make Cacio e Pepe, like this one made with ramen noodles or this with just zucchini noodles. Try several versions; it’s one of those dishes that looks fancy enough for company, but is easy enough to make on a busy weekday evening.
Bucatini and Zucchini Noodle Cacio e Pepe
- 8 ounces bucatini pasta
- 4 medium zucchini thinly sliced into ribbons with mandoline, peeler or spiralizer
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces Pecorino cheese finely grated plus more for topping
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Cook bucatini according to package directions until about 3 minutes before tender. Add zucchini noodles, cook 3 minutes more. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper; cook and stir about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water; bring to simmer. Add pasta and zucchini noodles, tossing to coat. Reduce heat to low and add cheese, stirring vigorously until cheese melts and pasta is coated (add more of the cooking liquid if pasta seems dry).
Divide between 4 bowls; sprinkle each with parsley and more cheese if desired. Serve.