Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li
Looking to switch things up from the mac and cheese that your child (or, um, partner) insists on? Same with Deb Perelman, who turned the iconic and sophisticated cacio e pepe into something a little more kid-friendly by tossing in kernels of fresh corn to add a pop of sweetness to every cheesy, peppery bite. If your kids are heat-averse, start with 1 tsp. black pepper and add more to taste.
- 4 servings
- 16 oz. gemelli, orecchiette, or other medium pasta
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups corn kernels (from 3 large ears)
- 8 oz. aged Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 cups), plus more for serving
- 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; add corn about 30 seconds before pasta is done cooking. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta and corn to the pot.
- While pasta is cooking, toss 8 oz. cheese and 2 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl to combine. Add 1/3 cup cold water and use a fork to mash mixture into a thick paste (try to get it as smooth as possible). Still mashing, add more water a tablespoonful at a time until paste is about the consistency of cream cheese.
- Add cheese mixture to pot with pasta and corn. Using a rubber spatula, toss pasta until coated (the cheese mixture will be too thick to form a sauce at this point). Tossing constantly, add reserved pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time until a glossy sauce forms (it should still be fairly thick).
- Transfer pasta to a large bowl and top with more cheese and a few additional grinds of pepper.
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