Recipe: Cacio e Pepe Croutons

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Lately cacio e pepe, a humble Roman pasta dish, has been getting quite a lot of praise — and for good reason. The simple pasta dish that’s tossed with nothing more than black pepper, olive oil, and Pecorino Romano cheese is a lesson in just how flavorful basic ingredients can be.

So why limit this powerhouse of flavor to just pasta? These inspired croutons just might rival the original.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Stovetop Croutons Are Key

Start with the crispiest croutons imaginable — which come by way of the stovetop, a skillet, and healthy glug of olive oil — and then toss them with lots of grated Pecorino cheese and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.

How to Use Your Croutons

The result is the best cheesy croutons you can find. The kick of black pepper adds a modest sophistication, making them a nice universal topping for numerous salads, soups, or pastas.

Ways to Use Cacio e Pepe Croutons

Cacio e Pepe Croutons

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups day-old bread cubes (about 1 inch)

Mix the cheese, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Cut the bread into roughly 1- inch cubes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bread cubes, toss to coat with the oil, and arrange in a single layer. Toast the bread, tossing every minute or so, until the cubes are golden-brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and pepper mixture and toss to combine. Serve immediately or let cool completely.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: Croutons can be made up to a few days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Storage: Store leftover croutons in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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