Your key to making better pasta at home

Making pasta from scratch for that dinner party you wanted to throw is a lofty goal.

A lofty and overwhelming goal.

But as it turns out, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming, or even particularly difficult.

Because cook and author Odette Williams has a new book called simple pasta which breaks down making pasta into something even the average home cook can handle. It’s available for pre-order now, with books shipping August 30.

Actor, Italian, and pasta lover Stanley Tucci described the book: “Delicious pasta portrayed in all its rustic elegance.” So that’s something.

Odette remains faithful to the “Simple Pasta” theme by highlighting three basic pastas (egg, semolina and gnocchi) which become the starting point for recipes. There’s also a section for everyday sauces and crispy bits, plus tips and tricks for rolling, cutting and shaping fresh pasta dough.

© GRAYDON HERRIOT

The book is divided into four seasons, so you can cook with fresh produce and eat dishes indicative of the season. Throughout the 256 pages, you’ll see plenty of gorgeous photos, but you’ll also find cocktail recipes, starters and desserts, giving you everything you need to put together a complete meal.

Important to note: Odette says she never made pasta from scratch until she was 40, so there is hope for all of us. Now, here’s a recipe for cacio e pepe (with instructions for using fresh or store-bought pasta) to cook the next time you’re hungry.

simple cacio e pepe recipe pasta book
© Graydon Herriott

Recipe Cacio e Pepe

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pasta: 1⁄2 recipe semolina pasta (page 27), shaped into pici (see page 50
  • Store-bought pasta: 8 ounces dried spaghetti, bucatini, tonnarelli, or trofie
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving

Instructions:

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente or a minute or two before package directions if store bought.

2. While the pasta cooks, place all the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them into very small chunks (not too dusty, not too chunky).

3. When the pasta is al dente, reserve at least 1 1⁄2 cups pasta water, drain the pasta in a colander, then return it to the pot while still hot.

4. Off the heat, add the butter, olive oil, salt and all but a pinch of pepper to the pasta and stir to combine. Add a little pasta water, then hold your hand over the pan and gradually sprinkle a few tablespoons of pecorino over the pasta while stirring quite vigorously with a large wooden spoon (you may need to stabilize the pan). Repeat this sequence several times, until you’ve incorporated all the pecorino and about 1 cup of water (or just as much as needed to create a creamy, emulsified sauce).

5. Serve the pasta with that last pinch of pepper and more grated pecorino.

Reprinted with permission from Simple Pasta by Odette Williams, copyright (c) 2022. Published by Ten Speed ​​Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.