Do you know anyone who doesn't love a bowl of satisfying, cheesy pasta? Cacio e pepe ravioli are little scrumptious pillows of cheese-filled pasta that are tossed with baby spinach and fresh basil. Extra grated parmesan and a generous dusting of freshly cracked black pepper are essential!
Sometimes you just need simple, good food. Cacio e pepe ravioli is one of those dishes that never fails to satisfy and offers rich yet fresh flavors.
If cheese is what you are craving, be sure to check out my halloumi stroganoff. This stroganoff is a different, hearty, cheesy dish that is delicious for either lunch or dinner.
For a more traditional pairing of pasta with tomato sauce, be sure to check out my Italian baked rigatoni al forno recipe. This hearty, baked pasta is packed with noodles, ground meat, melted mozzarella cheese, and a tantalizing tomato sauce.
If you're serving this cacio e pepe ravioli for a fancy dinner, why not whip up a simple yet elegant small charcuterie board as an appetizer for your guests.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Takes just 15 minutes to make and is perfect for busy weeknights.
- Has comforting and satisfying flavors.
- Using fresh, pre-packaged cheese ravioli means that this recipe supremely easy to execute. There is a popular variety available at Trader Joes.
- The fresh baby spinach and basil pack a nutritional punch and additional texture.
- Your family will go crazy over the cheesy, peppery flavors.
- Learn how to make Italian cacio e pepe ravioli.
- Fresh, pre-packaged pasteurized cheese ravioli (can be a blend of pecorino Romano cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan)
- Baby spinach leaves
- Fresh basil herbs
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper (lots!)
See recipe card below for quantities.
Pregnancy benefits of baby spinach
This recipe incorporates an important ingredient: baby spinach. This leafy green vegetable is highly nutritious and is one of the best things that a pregnant woman can eat during pregnancy.
First of all, spinach is an excellent source of folate. Appropriate folate intake during pregnancy can reduce the possibility of birth defects, specifically reducing the chances of certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord by more than 70 percent.
Furthermore, spinach is a good plant-based source of iron. 100g of baby spinach contains 1.26 mg of iron. Mineral iron supports making more blood for both the pregnant mother and growing baby.
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How to make cacio e pepe ravioli
- Boil the ravioli until al dente and set aside.
- Sautée ravioli in pan with ground black pepper and olive oil.
- Add in fresh spinach leaves and basil.
- Top pasta with lemon juice, more cracked black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.
Step by step instructions
First, thoroughly rinse the baby spinach and basil. Tear the basil into small strips and set aside.
Next, cook the ravioli until aldente, per the package instructions. Typically, this will involve boiling the ravioli in salted water for 4-5 minutes. Once drained, set the cooked, aldente ravioli aside, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
In a separate, medium-sized skillet, warm the olive oil for 30 seconds over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, use a spatula to gently slide the cooked pasta directly into the pan. Top pasta with freshly ground black pepper and gently sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until some ravioli have browned slightly and developed a crunchy exterior.
Turn off the heat.
Next, add in the baby spinach leaves as well as the fresh basil leaves. Toss until combined and the leaves have wilted. If you are having difficulty tossing because the pasta is too dry, add in a splash or two of the reserved pasta water.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top with additional cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
Serve immediately, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese.
Do not skimp on the freshly ground black pepper! Black pepper is essential to this recipe. The finished cacio e pepe should have a strong peppery, cheesy flavor.
Make ahead & storage
- Refrigerator: Store any leftover cacio e pepe ravioli in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. To reheat, reheat the pasta (plus 2 tablespoons of water) in a covered skillet for several minutes.
- Freezer: Freezing the cacio e pepe ravioli will change the texture of the cheese and is not recommended.
Variations, substitutions, and pairings
- More Protein - Add sliced chicken to create a cacio e pepe with chicken dish! Simply slice some fully cooked chicken breast and add in your desired quantity.
- More Veggies - In addition to the baby spinach and fresh basil, sliced green onions, scallions, freshly chopped parsley, or fresh chives could be added. Or additional sliced vegetables -- mushrooms or asparagus for instance. A cup of corn kernels would also add some color and crunch!
- Spicy - My preference is to add crushed red pepper flakes while cooking for additional spice. A sprinkle of white pepper also adds a different dimension of heat.
- Meat ravioli - Instead of cheese ravioli, why not try mushroom ravioli or meat ravioli?
- Herbs - If you're not a fan of fresh basil, then try replacing this herb with freshly chopped parsley or chives.
- Greens - Don't have fresh spinach on hand? Try fresh arugula instead. Arugula would certainly lend amazing peppery flavor to this cacio e pepe ravioli!
- Fresh green salad - The obvious pairing to cacio e pepe ravioli is a crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. A green such as arugula would be an excellent choice.
- Sliced cherry tomatoes - A bit of acid is a welcome complement to the rich flavors of the cacio e pepe ravioli.
Trader Joes has several popular varieties of cheese ravioli. Try experimenting with different varieties such as mushroom, herb and cheese, or even meat-stuffed ravioli.
Frequently asked questions
The correct pronunciation of cacio e pepe is: Ka-Chow Ee Peh-Pay. Translated into Italian, it literally means "cheese and pepper."
A generous squeeze of fresh lemon and extra ground black pepper are a simple way to elevate the flavors of cacio e pepe ravioli.
At a basic level, arancini are small arborio rice balls stuffed with various fillings, and then coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Italian cacio e pepe arancini are such rice balls filled with both pecorino romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Related dinner recipes
Cacio E Pepe Ravioli (with Baby Spinach)Author:
- 8 oz refrigerated, fresh cheese ravioli (pasteurized)
- 4 quarts water
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pasteurized parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 1 lemon
- salt, to taste
- Thoroughly rinse the baby spinach and basil. Tear the basil into small strips and set aside.
- Cook the ravioli per the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- Once drained, set pasta aside.
- In a medium-sized skillet (10"/25 cm), warm the olive oil over medium heat for 30 seconds.
- Use a spatula to slide the cooked ravioli into the pan. Gently toss to separate the ravioli.
- Add the ground black pepper and toss ravioli to disperse.
- After 3 minutes of sautéing, some ravioli will have developed a crunchy exterior. Turn off the heat.
- Add in the spinach leaves and basil leaves. Use a wooden spoon to toss and combine. If ravioli is too dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water and continue to toss.
- Once greens are mostly wilted, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt to taste.
- Serve the cacio e pepe ravioli in individual bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese and additional ground black pepper.
- Do not skimp on the freshly ground black pepper.
- If you're not a fan of fresh basil, try replacing the herbs with freshly chopped parsley or chives.
- Don't have spinach on hand? Try fresh arugula instead.
- Instead of cheese ravioli, why not try mushroom ravioli or meat ravioli.
- A sprinkle of white pepper also adds a different dimension of heat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove