Pasta in Bianco (Plain/White Pasta)

That’s me, with my trusty steed at the ready.

Pasta in bianco, also called pasta bianco, is about as simple a pasta dish as one can make. When I was a boy, Mom would serve this to me whenever I was recuperating from some sort of stomach ailment. I always thought that this “cure” was something peculiar to our house and it wasn’t until many years later that I learned that many Italian households do the same. Luckily, one doesn’t need to be ill to enjoy this simple, yet surprisingly flavorful, dish. And, requiring so few ingredients, this can easily be your “go to” dinner if you want something to eat but don’t have the time nor desire to cook a “normal” meal.

Pasta in Bianco

There’s no need to treat the ingredient amounts as set in stone. You can add more butter and less extra virgin olive oil, for example, if that’s your preference. In fact, true pasta in bianco is made with only butter and that’s how Mom served it to me when I was a boy. Now that I’m older — OK, much older — I’ve replaced some of the butter with the much healthier extra virgin olive oil. Whatever combined amount of butter and oil that you use, the result should be pasta that is well-coated, but not so much that it is dripping. The same holds true for the Pecorino Romano cheese. Some people enjoy a light dusting of cheese; others prefer a blizzard. Me? I’m a blizzard kinda guy — complete with drifts.

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Pasta in Bianco Recipe

serves 2

cook time: approx.  20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb angel hair/capellini or spaghetti or linguine
  • 2 – 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 – 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Fill a large, 6 to 8 quart, pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the salt, then the pasta, and stir to help prevent the pasta from sticking.
  2. Follow package directions and cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Use a strainer to drain the pasta completely. Do NOT rinse with cold water.
  3. Return pasta to pot, add oil and butter, and mix to coat evenly. Add cheese and mix well.
  4. Serve immediately. Have additional cheese handy for us “blizzard” folks, as well as freshly ground pepper for those so inclined — like me.

Variations

The only variations listed involve the type of cheese to be used.  That’s the only ingredient that can be changed realistically without altering the recipe and, therefore, losing its simplicity.

  • In place of the Pecorino Romano, try using Parmesan, fontinella, ricotta salata, or asiago cheeses. Each can be grated and will impart its own distinctive flavor to the dish.

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Gee, that wasn’t so bad for my first attempt. Onward and upward!

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16 thoughts on “Pasta in Bianco (Plain/White Pasta)

    • I am in total agreement, Kathryn. Although pasta in bianco is traditionally served with just butter, I eat it far too often and have had to lighten it up a bit with olive oil. It is still good and remains a favorite of mine.

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  1. Pingback: Quadretti Pasta and the Fairy Hobmother’s Gift | from the Bartolini kitchens

  2. Awww….a little ChgoJohnny!! Too cute! I think I had that same horse!! It was saved for my kids to use…and destroy! I so remember this dish John, comfort food all the way. I walked home for lunch during my elementary school days and this would be a warming dish I would get from my mother. While I never referred to it as such, I am definitely a “blizzard” lover!!

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    • Thanks, Linda. I really wasn’t a picky eater as a kid. Mom could’ve given me pasta in bianco every day for lunch or supper and I would’ve loved it! I so remember that horse! While it was around, not one desperado came near our house. Not a one! We rode with the Lone Ranger, you know, every Saturday morning.

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  3. Pingback: My Uncle’s Pasta (aka Cacio e Pepe … whatever!) | from the Bartolini kitchens

  4. I thought I would browse, but my eyes are closing. Your second post if very interesting but i love this simple recipe and I still have that triangle of Pecorino Romano, still wrapped and untouched. I prefer a light dusting of cheese, my son loves a mega blizzard, I always have to say “enough” and stash away the cheese. Is that really you? That’s a cute photo. Time to head back to Ontario. Best Wishes, John.

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    • Hope yours was a pleasant trip back home to Ontario, Liz. There aren’t many pasta dishes as uncomplicated as this one: pasta, butter, and cheese. To this day, it remains a favorite. Yes, that’s me with my trusty steed waiting at bedside. :)

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    • I still make pasta in bianco when I’ve an upset stomach, Tanya, and you can be sure that I’ve always got brodo in my freezer reserved for medicinal purposes. It worked back then and it will work now. :)

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