Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Arguably the most popular pasta shape in the world, spaghetti are the strands against which all other pasta is measured. Pasta purists know that the proper combination of durum wheat and water and the extrusion of the pasta through traditional dies create the taste and texture that separates a premium pasta from a sticky glob.
Spaghetti (spaghetto sing.) means”thin string” or “twine” in Italian. Traditionally, most spaghetti was 20 inches long and .07 inches in diameter. Shorter lengths became popular during the latter half of the 20th century and now spaghetti is most commonly packaged in lengths of 10-12 inches. Variations in shape, length and diameter account for over 350 recorded types of pasta. Spaghettini, a variant of spaghetti with a thinner diameter, is perfect for quick sauces that are light so as not to weigh the pasta down. Spaghettoni are a larger form of spaghetti, more toothsome and slightly thicker ( 2.10 cm). Use them wherever you would spaghetti, for a slightly thicker mouthfeel.
Spaghettoni can be used in a number of ways but we think it is best served as Spaghettoni con Cacio e Pepe, a classic Roman pasta dish. Made with a handful of ingredients (spaghettoni, butter, ground black pepper, and cheese) it is deceptively simple but as all Italian dishes relies on the quality of ingredients and attention to preparation.
7 ounces spaghetti or spaghettoni pasta 3 tablespoons unsalted butter with extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and boil until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups pasta water; set aside to cool. Strain pasta. Melt butter/oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir pepper into the browned butter in order to “bloom” the pepper and deepen the flavor.
Pour reserved pasta water into the skillet; add pasta and increase heat to medium. Bring liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, 3 to 5 minutes; remove from heat. Stir Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Pecorino Romano cheese into pasta mixture; serve immediately with more Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pepper.