I've been trying to eat a little less dairy lately and I wanted to see if I could recreate one of my all time favorite cheesy dishes without real cheese. Okay, so I'll admit it, it's not the same as the original dish that Italian grandmothers have been whipping up in Rome for years. But it's GOOD! It's just missing that sharp sharp taste that pecorino romano cheese gives off. Also, butter isn't a typical ingredient of cacio e pepe but since this is a vegan version, the (vegan) butter helps to add more of that silky texture that melting real cheese into the pasta water creates in the traditional non-vegan version.
Originally, I wanted to use this vegan parmesan cheese I've had in my fridge for a while (Follow Your Heart brand) but at the last second I realized that there are chickpeas on the ingredient list so I had to abandon ship and just use nutritional yeast. If you can eat chickpeas, I might try half nutritional yeast and half the vegan parm - it might taste more cacio e pepe-ish and cheesy that way.
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