This Easy Cacio e Pepe Dip Is Everything
The beauty of cacio e pepe lies in its simplicity: the combination of sharp, salty Pecorino Romano cheese and spicy black pepper is what makes that Italian pasta such a classic. It’s a crave-worthy harmony of flavors that can work with almost anything — including a cameo in the snack category. Blending the same flavors with California walnuts turns it into a sophisticated-yet-easy dip that you can scoop up with anything from fresh veggies to crisp crackers.
Since there are only four ingredients in this dip (besides water), freshness make a huge difference. Skip storing your California walnuts in the pantry. They’ll be at their best when kept in the refrigerator or, for longer-term storage, the freezer. Pecorino Romano is a sheep’s milk cheese that’s saltier and tangier than Parmesan and worth seeking out. And for the spiciest punch of flavor, don’t forget to crack fresh black pepper at the last minute.
The savory flavor of California walnuts is the backbone of this dip: A quick toast of the walnuts in the oven brings it out even more. The toasted California walnuts are then blended in a food processor with a big handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, cream cheese, some water, and a good spoonful of black pepper until it reaches your desired consistency.
Go chunky with a few good pulses, or let the motor run longer for a creamier spread. This nutty and creamy dip is a simple, delicious way to shake up your snacking routine, especially when paired with a colorful selection of vegetables like radishes, celery, and carrots.
Prep time 5 minutes
Makes1 1/3 cups
- 1 cup
California walnuts (4 ounces), plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 ounces
Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1/2 cup store-bought or 1 1/3 cups grated on a Microplane)
- 4 ounces
- 1/3 cup
- 3/4 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Arrange 1 cup California walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir and continue to bake, checking and stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and toasted, 3 to 7 minutes more. Transfer the toasted nuts to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
Finely grate 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese and add to the food processor. Add 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/3 cup water, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Process to desired consistency, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Crush more walnuts and sprinkle over the dip with more black pepper before serving.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
California walnuts are a simple and delicious way to add flavor, texture, and nutrition to all your favorite meals and snacks. Discover hundreds of recipes at walnuts.org.