Cacio e Pepe Matzo Brei

So delicious, who cares what the purists say?

By now, it seems like just about everything has gotten the cacio e pepe treatment - and for good reason. It is hard to imagine a combination more beguiling than sharp and creamy Pecorino melting together with tingly black pepper. For years tonnarelli, also known as spaghetti alla chitarra (literally “guitar spaghetti”) had all the fun. But more recently, chefs and home cooks have found ways to translate the classic Roman pasta dish to everything from shortbread and scones to mushrooms and Brussel sprouts. 

It doesn’t take long - at least for me! - to make the leap to matzo brei. Passover’s favorite matzo-and-egg scramble is plenty delicious on its own, but is even better dressed up with a pile of sauteed apples, a jumble of softened leeks and mushrooms, or (yep) a snowy blanket of grated cheese speckled with freshly ground black pepper. It’s the kind of low-effort, huge impact addition that feels like magic. 

My husband Yoshie is a wonderful person, but an absolutely terrible recipe taster. Whenever I ask him to try a new dish I’m developing he always says he likes it. He wants to be supportive, I know, and he is genuinely one of the least picky eaters I have ever met. But sometimes I just want a little constructive feedback, alright?! However, I can always tell when a dish really wows him by the way his eyebrows skyrocket and his mouth purses like he is beginning to say “whoa!”  This cacio e pepe matzo brei right here? It brought on the whoa factor. 

Is this classic cacio e pepe? I mean, it is not made with spaghetti Is it classic matzo brei underneath? Yep, though purists will insist the whole bet is off if you top it with anything other than salt, cinnamon-sugar, or maybe sour cream and jam. I say ignore the purists and go with your taste buds on this one. I am willing to bet it will be the most delicious ‘brei you have all Passover long.

Cacio e Pepe Matzo Brei

Serves 2 to 4

5 sheets unsalted matzo, broken into roughly 2-inch pieces

1 cup warm tap water

3 eggs

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil

3/4 cup (55 g) grated Pecorino, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Finely chopped chives or chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

  1. Spread the matzo pieces in a large baking dish, pour the water over top, and gently stir. Let the mixture stand until the matzo softens, 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully pour off the excess water. 

  2. Whisk the eggs and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the softened matzo pieces to the egg mixture, and gently stir to coat. 

  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan set over medium heat. Add the egg and matzo mixture to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the eggs are just set, 3 to 5 minutes. 

  4. Stir in the pecorino and black pepper. Taste, and add more pepper if desired. Divide between plates and sprinkle with chives and a little more Pecorino.

2 things I’m loving this week.

The New York Times’ Kids Section. Getting the physical newspaper on the weekends is a joy - even when reading it can only happen in stolen moments during nap time. But once a month, an extra dose of joy arrives with the Kids’ section - a thoughtful, well-reported, funny, and engaging (for our 6 1/2 year old and often us!) section curated just for kiddos.

NY Shuk’s Rosey Harissa Spice. Do you have a spice or spice blend in your cabinet that you use on everything? This is mine. It is slightly smoky and a teensy bit floral with just the right amount of heat. I stir it into pasta, roasted veggies, and marinades, and sprinkle it on everything from eggs to avo toast. NY Shuk’s owners, Ron and Leetal, are dear friends. But even if they were strangers, I would be obsessed with their rosey harissa.