I was going to call this Cacio e Lemon Pepe Orecchiette, but I figured someone out there would have a rage stroke over it because: 1) cacio e pepe isn’t made with lemon; 2) cacio e pepe isn’t made with Parmesan cheese; 3) cacio e pepe isn’t made with butter; and 4) cacio e pepe isn’t made with orecchiette. So let’s just call this a very loose adaptation of the Italian classic.
Why Parmesan? Well, the traditional version uses Romano cheese, but I haven’t been able to find a vegetarian version of that locally, so I opt for Parmesan instead (which, as I explain in this post, can be vegetarian if it’s not made in Italy). And I swapped out the spaghetti with orecchiette because spaghetti is unwieldy and I’d rather not have Little Pea with noodles plastered to her body by the end of the meal. Orecchiette is the perfect pasta for toddlers, in my humble opinion, because it’s not too small to pick up with fingers, but it’s not too big to need more than one bite or pre-cutting by mom or dad. Also, orecchiette means “little ears,” which is adorable…but I guess a little macabre if you think about it too much. Let’s not!