Quarantine Eats: Za'atar Cacio e Pepe

400g dried bucatini (or other long pasta – adjust the cooking time, if necessary)
50g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
10g za’atar, plus 1½ tsp extra to serve
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
130g parmesan, very finely grated
30g pecorino romano, very finely grated
2½ tbsp olive oil

In a wide pan on a medium-high heat, bring 1.3 litres of water to a boil, then season with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Add the bucatini and cook for nine minutes, until al dente, stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn’t stick together or to the bottom of the pan, and to ensure it remains fully submerged. Drain the pasta, and reserve all the cooking water – you should have about 520ml left; if not, top up with a little hot water.

In a large, high-sided, nonstick saute pan on a high heat, melt the butter until bubbling, then add the za’atar and pepper, and cook, stirring, for a minute, until fragrant. Add the reserved cooking water, bring to a rapid boil and cook for five minutes, until it reduces a little and turns silky. Stir the pasta vigorously into the sauce, then add the parmesan in two batches, continuing to stir vigorously as you go, and waiting until the first half has melted in before adding the next. Once all the parmesan has melted, add the pecorino, continuing to stir until it has also melted and the sauce is smooth and silky. Transfer to a lipped platter, finish with the oil, the remaining za’atar and a small pinch of salt, and serve at once.

Recipe from Ottolenghi