As far as easy dinners go, it doesn't get much simpler than capellini cacio e pepe. The classic pasta dish has Roman roots, and it's essentially comprised of three ingredients: the cooked pasta, Pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper. Cacio translates into cheese; pepe into pepper. It develops a creaminess from mixing the hot pasta with the cheese and some of the pasta cooking water.
I made it for dinner tonight out of sheer laziness, but I have to say the results were delicious. The cracked black pepper provided a nice bite, and I used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rather than Pecorino and it worked well. I've seen recipes that suggested mixing a few tablespoons worth of pasta cooking water with the cheese so that it forms a paste, which is then combined with the pasta. Instead I combined the pasta. grated cheese and water quickly in the still-warm pot after draining the noodles, and that helped melt the cheese into a sauce. Use as much pasta water as needed to achieve a creamy consistency. Also, don't be skimpy with the pepper!
You can use any kind of pasta, short or long, for this dish. I used capellini, but you can easily use spaghetti, penne, whatever your favourite.
Capellini cacio e pepe
1 lb capellini (or other pasta)
1 cup grated Pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
1 cup pasta cooking water
Ground black pepper
Cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid before draining.
Mix pasta, grated cheese and about 1/2 cup cooking water in pot that pasta has cooked in.
If pasta is still dry, add more cooking liquid. Grind black pepper over top and mix in.
Serve in big bowls, with extra grated cheese sprinkled over top and another grinding of black pepper.