If you have 5 minutes to invest in prep time and four ingredients on hand, then you have all it takes to whip up "one big skillet of comfort," according to pasta pro Giada De Laurentiis who recently made fans swoon over this recipe on Instagram. (ICYMI, this is the #1 mistake Giada De Laurentiis says nearly everyone makes with homemade pasta.)
"Pasta alla Gricia is one of the quintessential pasta dishes of Rome, and what makes it so fantastic is how simple it is," the Discovery and Food Network star, cookbook author, and mom explains as she introduces her recipe for Pasta Alla Gricia on her lifestyle website, Giadzy.
Instead of more traditional (but tougher to find) guanciale, cured Italian pork, De Laurentiis swaps in "a much more accessible ingredient in the states… bacon! I think bacon works wonderfully as an alternative here – pancetta would even do the trick, too," she explains.
Getty Images / Larry Busacca, Giadzy / Elizabeth Newman
No matter which meat you choose (or plant-based meat substitute like Sweet Earth's Hickory and Sage Flavored Benevolent Bacon), the real magic happens when you mix the starchy pasta water with the pecorino and Parmesan cheeses. These simple ingredients emulsify to "create a really deliciously creamy sauce that is just unbeatable. Make sure you stir it frequently once you add the cheese in, and don't be afraid to ladle in extra pasta water as needed!"
"I need a hug," one fan sweetly says in the comments. After seeing this beautiful bowl and hearing Giada explain it as "like a hug in a bowl," we have to say: "same."
To make it, simply cook 12 ounces of bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Drain most of the fat from the pan, then to the remaining fat, stir in 1 ½ teaspoons of black pepper. (BTW, we call salt and pepper "freebies" and don't add them to the ingredient tally since pretty much everyone has those on hand.)
In a large pot of generously salted, boiling water, cook the 1 pound of linguine about 2 minutes shy of the package directions, or to al dente. Transfer 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bacon bits left at the bottom of the pan.
Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta from the boiling water to the skillet. Sprinkle in ½ cup each of freshly grated pecorino Romano and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Use the tongs to stir and toss the noodles until the sauce is thick and coating each strand—and until the pasta is cooked through. Add more pasta water if necessary to achieve the creamy consistency you crave.
One fan who tried this at home left a glowing review, deeming it the "best recipe ever. My fave was the true cacio e pepe in Roma. Not any more!"