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Creamy Cacio e Pepe with Fennel-Celery Salad


  • Salt

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • 1 bulb fennel

  • 6 ribs celery with leafy tops

  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling

  • 2 teaspoon-1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 cup fresh sheep’s milk or cow’s milk ricotta cheese

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, trim off the top of the fennel bulb and save 2 tablespoons of the chopped fronds. Quarter, core and thinly slice the fennel. Thinly slice the celery on an angle. In a salad bowl, dress the fennel, celery and parsley with the lemon juice, a good drizzle of EVOO, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in the pasta pot, heat 1/4 cup EVOO over medium heat with 2 teaspoons pepper for spicy, or 1 tablespoon for very spicy. Stir in the reserved pasta water and the ricotta. Add the pasta, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; toss. Top the pasta with the fennel fronds and serve the salad before or after.