Sometimes you just need something fast and easy but equally delicious. This is kind of a cheats cacio e pepe, using a cream base rather than pasta water. Italian purists will despair with the use of creme fraiche but I'm not here to be traditional! Sometimes taste matters more and I love the tangy note that it brings to the sauce. It's a dream to melt the parmesan into.
Easy creamy peppery pasta sauce
I am writing up this super easy and delicious creamy pepper pasta sauce as it is only sitting on a reel at the moment and it deserves a place here. Yes, it's so simple and probably doesn't even need a recipe but I think the ratios are perfect! In saying that feel free to change the amounts of things, for example you might want more or less pepper. Just taste as you go! I love using creme fraiche as it is really easy to make a sauce with, parmesan melts into it perfectly. I have used a hand rolled pici pasta but it will work with any pasta shape, fresh or dried.
Ingredients for this creamy peppery sauce
Pasta - Obviously! Use anything fresh or dried, this sauce will work with any shape.
Butter - I always prefer to use unsalted so I can season the sauce myself but use whatever you have just be aware salted butter could be too salty.
Black pepper - I always freshly crack pepper right before making it, it's a great wrist work out! Feel free to use more or less depending on your preference for heat.
Pasta water - Pasta water really is your friend here, it loosens the sauce and helps the pasta cling to the pasta perfectly.
Creme fraiche - No it's not traditional but it adds a wonderful tang to sauces and it's so easy to turn into a sauce.
Parmesan - Always try and use the best you can afford. I always finely grate it on a microplane, it needs to be really fine to melt into the sauce well.
Making the pici pasta
I have used a hand rolled pici pasta which I have a full tutorial for. You should definitely try and make it! All it takes is flour, water and olive oil and it is so simple to make! I often suggest pici as a great first recipe if you have never made your own pasta and it requires hardly any equipment. It's a rustic pasta and shouldn't be perfect so there's no pressure. Another easy one to try for this sauce is my hand rolled gnocchi sardi or homemade pappardelle.
Why pasta water is your best friend!
You'll hear me harp on about the magic that is pasta water in 99% of my recipes. It really is a key ingredient in every sauce I make. The starch left behind in the water acts as a thickening agent and helps sauces cling to the pasta. I couldn't make a sauce without it. I never EVER drain my pasta in a colander, I always transfer it directly to the sauce using a spider strainer. That way the pasta pot full of water is left there for you to ladle in as you need. if you have seen my reels on instagram you'll notice my sauces are SAUCY. Pasta soaks up liquid so quickly so I add enough pasta water to make it quite liquidy. By the time I serve into bowls and take to the table it hasn't dried up. You'll get to know what the right consistency is with some practice, you can't go wrong though I promise!
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print
Easy creamy peppery pasta sauce
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 people
A creamy and peppery pasta sauce that comes together in minutes and is incredibly addictive and delicious. A week night go to!
- 300g fresh or 200g dried pasta
- 40g butter
- 2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
- ⅔ cup pasta water
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- 80g parmesan
- Cook your pasta in a pot of well salted water (this sauce only takes a few mins to bring together so judge the timing of cooking your pasta based on whether you are using fresh or dried).
- Melt the butter over medium heat and add the pepper, letting it sizzle together while stirring until the butter is lightly browned.
- Lower the heat and add the pasta water, whisking vigorously until well emulsified.
- Add the creme fraiche and again whisk until well combined. You just want a nice gentle bubble at this stage, not too hot at all.
- Add the parmesan in a few lots, whisking and letting it melt in between each addition.
- Add your pasta straight in and let it bubble away for a minute or two, adding more pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper if it needs it. I like a bit of extra pepper on top even though there's lots in the sauce.
- The more you make pasta the more you will get used to cooking it and the sauce simultaneously. I work out how long the pasta will take and how long the sauce will take then work out what needs to be started first. In this case I know my pici will only take a couple of minutes to cook so I have a pot of boiling water going and add the pasta to it when I am adding the creme fraiche to the butter. If you get the sauce done too quick and the pasta isn't ready then just lower the heat right down until it's ready. If it thickens up too much then all you need is a splash of pasta water to loosen it.
- With most of my sauces I like to let the pasta bubble away in it to help thicken the sauce and coat the pasta. If you are using dried pasta then undercook it slightly so it doesn't overcook in the sauce.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
It was one of those days where despite best intentions you simply cannot make it out of your pjs, much less out of the house and I needed to make dinner.
We had store bought seafood ravioli in the freezer, but no sauce. And then…immediately Burnt Butter Table came to mind! (I started following on IG during the pandemic before the website launched. I’d come across a post of of Emilie’s hands adorned with BOLD NAIL ART making fresh pasta. The audacity it took to post that—IYKYK—indicated I had stumbled upon a culinary page I could genuinely relate to.)
So fast forward to last night…I needed a quick sauce that was GOOD, and I knew just where to go. I searched and decided based on the ingredients we had on hand. I am a kitchen novice and I only started cooking in 2020. I like recipes that are simple and help add to my skill set.
I did have to make some tweaks—we only had salted butter, sour cream instead of crème fraîche, and aged Gouda instead of Parm. But it was still ABSOLUTELY delicious!
Thank you for teaching me about the value of emulsifying the pasta water and butter at the beginning. I usually add it later but doing it that way made my sauce so much more silky and I believe also kept it from breaking. This simple sauce was also ready fast, which was great because the wall clock stopped during the streaming binge fest. Getting up to make dinner it felt like disrupting the time space continuum—when are we?? What year is this anyway???
So, when I read above that you love x3 to hear comments and no one had left anything yet, I wanted to go all out and share my appreciation for not only this recipe but all of them really…. And yes, unsalted butter is on the shopping list from now on 🙂
Emilie Pullar says
Hello! I am SO sorry for the slow reply! This is the best comment ever haha it made me laugh so much! SO glad you love the recipe and are not offended by my nails haha 😉
I have made this so many times that I don’t even need to look at the recipe. This is a great starting point if cacio e Pepe intimidates you, like it does me! But it really is its own delish sauce, love love love!
Emilie Pullar says
Hi Tara, this makes me so happy thank you for the wonderful comment1 🙂