Miso Cacio E Pepe

This fusion concept comes from Hetty McKinnon’s new modern Asian cookbook, To Asia With Love. It’s a genius idea to use to miso to create an umami-rich sauce that’s lighter than the Italian original. Hetty uses udon in her version, but I used the noodles we had on hand, long fusilli strands, which are hollow like bucatini but crimped like a perm. This is a new family favorite – easy, richly flavorful, while not heavy. I added seared broccolini for some greenery.

To reduce the dairy, I used vegan butter instead of regular butter. I like the Miyokos vegan butter at Trader Joe’s because it’s cultured and has a French butter flavor. To completely veganize the recipe, use nutritional yeast instead of pecorino or parmesan. Nutritional yeast is one of those ingredients I used to see in old vegetarian cookbooks that was hard to find and sounded “crunchy.” Today it’s found everywhere, even TJs, and I’ve realized it’s an easy dairy-free way to add umami to recipes instead of a dusting of parm. Today I used half-parm, half nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is bright yellow, so my photo doesn’t look quite as white as the cookbook photo.

RECIPE

1 pound pasta

6 tablespoons vegan butter

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve

2 tablespoons white (shiro) miso

2 ounces (60g) grated pecorino, parmesan, or nutritional yeast

METHOD

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, stirring with chopsticks to separate the strands. Reserve about 1 cup of cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the black pepper and stir for 20-30 seconds, until fragrant and toasted. Pour in about half the reserved cooking water, then add the noodles, miso, and remaining vegan butter. Turn off the heat, then add half the nutritional yeast or cheese. Toss the noodles until the sauce comes together and coats the strands. If the noodles seem dry, add some more of the reserved cooking water.

Transfer to serving plates and top with the remaining nutritional yeast or cheese and if you like, more black pepper.

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