If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed the beginnings of Italy spam begin to pop up in my stories. That is because I’ve just touched down in Milan for the Barilla Pasta World Championships, and I probably couldn’t be more excited to inhale some carby goodness. Bonus points for cacio pepe carby goodness, obviously. Bonus points again if someone were to buy me a wheel of cheese, Isabella and Paolo style.
Somewhat like the tennis, representatives from countries all over the world come to Milan to compete. They are paired up and asked to present imaginative pasta dishes, which are then judged and ranked. The winner, much like the tennis (please don’t laugh that I’m using sports analogies) proceeds to the next round.
This pasta dish that I’ve created is a nod to the dish being presented by the Australian candidate, Dario Manca. He has created a beautiful dish with a cacio pepe base, complete with chickpeas, potatoes, a chickpea foam, and a host of other Masterchef style aesthetically pleasing flourishes.
This pasta dish also has a cacio pepe base and crunchy potato bits, but I put my own spin on it to make it FODMAP friendly. The creamy cacio pepe sauce is lightened up spring herbs and lemony zucchini ribbons, and given texture by deliciously crunchy potato pieces. It’s gluten free, vegetarian, and FODMAP, as I mentioned. What intolerant people dreams are made of (hey now!)
FOR THE CACIO PEPE PASTA: Serves 4-6
- 1 packet Barilla gluten free elbow macaroni style pasta (340g)
- 100g good quality parmesan
- 30g butter
- LOTS of pepper
- Sea salt to taste
- 1-2 large zucchini/s, mandolined or sliced into fine strips
- Squeeze of half a lemon
- Spring herbs of choice (I used mint, dill and some lemon thyme)
- 500g waxy new potatoes (aka waxy baby potatoes. I highly recommend Kipfler if you can find them)
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Scrub your potatoes, and place them into a saucepan of salted water over a high heat. Cook them over a high heat until they are just cooked through. This will depend on the size of potatoes you have – for these small Kipflers I used it took 15-20 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove them from the water and allow them to steam dry.
- Layer an oven tray with a thin layer of olive oil, and return to the hot oven for 10 minutes. Heating the oil will create super crunchy potato bits.
- Use a fork to roughly smash up your potatoes, leaving some of them in tact, some slightly smashed, and some completely smashed. This will give great texture when tossed through the pasta.
- Cook the potatoes from anywhere between 30-60 minutes. Mine took 60 for the crunchy edges I wanted.
- When the potatoes have about 15-20 minutes to go, begin to heat a pot of salted water to cook the pasta. Cook as per the packet instructions, leaving it a little al dente.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta but RESERVE THE PASTA WATER. You’ll be using it for the sauce.
- In the pasta saucepan, melt the butter for a low medium heat. Add the salt and pepper (seriously, use a lot of pepper. 1-2 teaspoons of freshly cracked pepper is ideal. You won’t even believe how it transforms the sauce.
- Add the pasta water and freshly finely grated parmesan to the butter mixture, stirring for a few minutes. Once it has thickened, stir through the pasta, ensuring the sauce has coated it all.
- In a small bowl, squeeze the lemon over the zucchini/s, and toss to combine. Roughly chop your herbs, ready to stir through.
- The potatoes should be done by now, so season them generously and remove from the oil.
- To assemble, use a large bowl to toss the pasta together with the herbs, zucchini and crunchy potato bits. Serve immediately so that the potatoes don’t lose their crunch.