"We're going to make a very easy pasta dish," says best-selling author and TV host Padma Lakshmi at the start her latest Instagram post, and she delivers on that promise. Plus, in addition to cooking the "luscious, creamy" pasta, Lakshmi drops in a quick and simple tip for getting the most flavor out of black peppercorns. Read on for the details and how to make Lakshmi's Boursin e Pepe, inspired by one of her favorite pastas, cacio e pepe (that's Italian for "cheese and pepper").
The beauty of cacio e pepe is its simplicity, which Lakshmi captures perfectly in her demo of Boursin e Pepe (full recipe here). One cup of the water that the pasta is cooked in is combined with cheese and flavored with black pepper and herbs to produce a creamy sauce your taste buds won't soon forget. If you have 20 minutes and spaghetti, butter, black peppercorns, peas, herbs and Parmesan and Boursin cheeses on hand, then you're ready to go!
You know Boursin cheese, right? It's everyone's favorite cylindrical, foil-wrapped, spreadable cheese. If you've never eaten it, you've likely seen those little white boxes it comes in (like a present) in the cheese section of your grocery store. It's intensely flavorful and similar in texture to Alouette or cream cheese. Lakshmi uses the garlic-herb flavor for this recipe. The Boursin and the other ingredients for the sauce go into a large skillet while the pasta cooks, but not before Lakshmi uses a classic technique to boost the flavor of her peppercorns.
First, she pours the black peppercorns into the dry skillet over medium heat. She toasts the peppercorns for one to two minutes, until the natural oils in them heat up and become fragrant, making the peppercorns even more potent and aromatic. This technique may be applied to most any recipe that calls for whole or ground spices, whether it's our Ground Beef & Potatoes Skillet or a curry. "I love to do this because it really makes a difference with your spices," says Lakshmi.
Lakshmi transfers the hot peppercorns to a large mortar and uses a pestle to quickly grind up the pepper, which goes back into the same skillet after the butter has melted and started to foam. The peas follow shortly after, and then the Boursin is added along with 1 cup of the pasta water. The sauce is whisked until combined and creamy. Then the chives, parsley and Parmesan are incorporated before the cooked pasta slides into the skillet. After getting the spaghetti thoroughly coated in the velvety sauce, Lakshmi finishes the dish with some herbs she reserved for garnishing, plus some grated Parmesan. All that's left is the plating and eating.
One fan commented, "Padma, this is my dream recipe. [Boursin] is literally my comfort food/appetizer/snack of choice! I am making this recipe this week!" And we're feeling pretty tempted to copy this simple weeknight dish ourselves.
In case you're as fanatical for Boursin as that fan, here are a couple more tasty recipes that use Boursin: Creamy Boursin Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms & Tomatoes and Creamy Chicken, Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms One-Pot Pasta. You may want (or need) to add these to your weekly lineup of meals—just don't forget to toast your spices.