Sweet Corn Cacio E Pepe Recipe

Summer corn adds a hint of sweetness to this cheesy pasta

We love anything cacio e pepe, the classic Italian combo of cheese and pepper that—though simple—when done well is simply sublime. A steaming bowl of cacio e pepe may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a weeknight meal option during the summer, but Michael Toscano of Le Farfalle in Charleston has a summery version on his menu we're obsessed with. A rich stock is made from corncobs before getting added to a pan with fresh kernels, spaghetti and tons of pepper and cheese. It's a summery pasta dish that's sweet and spicy and cheesy and, well, flawless.

"The corn in this case is a subtle sweetness that is a perfect addition to a classic salty, savory, piquant flavor profile of the Roman cacio e pepe," Toscano tells us. But don't feel like pasta is the only use for your summer stock: Toscano recommends swapping it with chicken stock to make a summer-friendly vegetarian risotto.

Cooking cacio e pepe is a fine dance that's all about timing according to Toscano: Don't fully cook the pasta, as it will finish in the pan with the corn stock. And don't take your eyes off the pasta once it's added to the pan; otherwise, you'll overcook your spaghetti and the sauce will get too thick. Serve the dish immediately, while it's cheesy and hot, for max satisfaction.

Check out our favorite pasta recipes.

Recipe adapted from Michael Toscano, Le Farfalle, Charleston, SC

Sweet Corn Cacio E Pepe
4.6 from 69 ratings
A flavorful corn stock and fresh corn kernels join forces with the classic pasta combo of cheese and pepper for a sweet summer twist on cacio e pepe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
to 6 servings
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • For the Corn Stock
  • 6 medium corncobs, husked
  • 6 cups water
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • For the Pasta
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1½ cups corn stock
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • Reserved corn kernels
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  1. Make the corn stock: Slice off the kernels from the corncobs, reserving the kernels for later. Place the cobs in a medium saucepan with the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 1½ cups, 1 hour. Strain, discarding the solids.
  2. Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, 6 minutes, then drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, toast the pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the corn stock, butter and corn kernels, and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the pasta to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the pasta is fully cooked and the sauce has reduced slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cheeses and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheeses have melted and the pasta is fully coated in the sauce, 1 minute more. Divide between bowls and serve immediately.
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