TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” and is a classic Roman pasta. Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. The fettucine cacio e pepe dish I made with this sauce turned out really tasty. Making a dish with this could not be easier, just combine this sauce with your cooked pasta. That does not mean just dump a ladle of sauce on top of the pasta though. Americans seem to serve pasta like this, which makes Italians cringe. Italians always finish cooking pasta with the sauce together for the last minute or so to blend the flavors. As it comes right out of the jar TJ’s C&P sauce is really, really thick. A few big spoons go a long way. So would not even think of using say the whole jar to make just 2 portions – or even 4. The Nutrition label suggests this 14.5 oz jar “makes 7 servings” so you use that as a rough guide, but let’s round it out and say a jar will make about 6 portions. My basic suggestion is try maybe 2 or 3 heaping Tablespoons of sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin later with a little pasta cooking water to get the consistency you like to coat the pasta but not drown it in sauce, Italian style. Italians never drown pasta so it’s swimming in sauce, it’s coated generously, in just the right proportions of sauce to pasta. Italians also finish cooking pasta, with some sauce and never just pour it over naked pasta. TIP: Try making this with any of TJ’s excellent Artisan Organic Pasta varieties (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc) Of course any shaped pasta such as Ziti or Farfalle will work well with this type of creamy sauce too. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi perhaps with this sauce. TJ’s made the sauce “bulletproof” with the addition of cornstarch which prevents separation. Sure they are saving on some of the ingredients for example using sunflower oil and not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix that when you plate it with some Good Stuff.

Be sure to have a piece of Pecorino cheese, as well as fresh black peppercorns (grinder) on hand. These few additions will help make this jarred sauce taste way better. Have a pan big enought to hold the pasta ready with your C&C sauce in it. Boil the pasta, and drain it when it’s about a minute UNDER al dente (save 3/4 cup pasta water). Finish cooking the pasta with the C+C sauce for one minute or until the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente. While you are tossing it to coat, add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time as needed, mixing it all up with tongs to incorporate pasta and sauce until you get your desired consistency fully coating pasta generously but not swimming with a lot of extra liquid. Plate it on warm dishes and quickly add a few touches. Some freshly grated Pecorino, a few grinds of black or rainbow pepper, and a drizzle of good EVOO. I topped it with a wee bit of chopped arugula for color. I know a Roman would protest that or any addition to the 2 basic cacio and pepe ingredients of cheese and pepper. If you wanted to use a little grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano, they will be delicious but again don’t tell your Roman friend who will so “only Pecorino Romano is allowed” on Cacio e Pepe! It says on the jar, that once opened, use it within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon so I figured I would simply put the jar (carefully ) in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge which worked fine keeping this sauce intact and I then made another meal with the remainder.

As far as what shape and kind of pasta to use with this sauce TJ’s has so many good ones including the ORGANIC and ARTISANAL pastas. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of your favorite pastas.

Now you can even use this sauce for other things besides pasta. You could use it on vegetables (perhaps roasted brussel sprouts, or potatoes, or on top of asparagus?) Or with eggs, on top or even mixed into some scrambled eggs or on an omelette….

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.49.

So while this sauce is handy I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is only two ingredients and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip: don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) A teaspoon of cornstarch slurry makes this foolproof BTW., and in fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce has cornstarch in it to make it bulletproof as well. If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe. Buon Appetito!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: TJ’s Canestrato Pepato with Peppercorns (Sardinian Cheese) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  2. Trackback: Trader Joe’s ORGANIC PASTAS (with Pasta Puttanesca Recipe) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  3. Trackback: TJ’s ORGANIC ITALIAN ARTISAN GIGLI PASTA (with recipe) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  4. Trackback: TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI (& recipe ideas) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  5. Dave
    May 23, 2022 @ 23:00:02

    Why do you call it C&C sauce?

    Shorthand: C acico & P epe

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: