What We’re Cooking This Week: Cacio e Pepe Fried Rice

Italian fried rice is simple, brilliant and the perfect late-night snack.

Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.

Local chef Tommy Habetz, slinging pies at Pizza Jerk these days, came up with the idea for Italian fried rice several years ago. It’s simple and brilliant: cook leftover rice in good olive oil and add your favorite Italian pasta sauce. Much like spaghetti aglio e olio, carbonara, and other simple pasta dishes, it’s the perfect late-night food. And if you’ve got a container of takeout rice in the back of the refrigerator, it’s even faster.

The key to something this simple is using good ingredients. Get a chunk of cheese and grate it yourself, preferably with a microplane since it produces thin, fluffy shavings that melt quickly. Grind the pepper fresh, or even better, crack peppercorns with a mortar and pestle for big, coarse chunks; if you don’t have one, a wine bottle rolled over them works well. And while this could serve two, you’ll probably eat it all yourself.

Cacio e Pepe Fried Rice

2 cups cooked rice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to finish

1 tablespoon freshly ground or cracked black pepper

2 ounces, or about 1/2 cup, microplane grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat oil in a skillet for a few minutes, then add rice. Stir well to coat the grains in oil, and cook for about 3 minutes so it gets lightly browned. Add pepper and cook for another minute. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, drizzle with more olive oil, and salt to taste.