This recipe, inspired by the pink peppercorn mafaldini at Brooklyn’s Lilia, celebrates the harmonious pairing of fruity pink peppercorn and sharp cheese. The chopped dates might make you think twice, but their nutty sweetness and chew balance the pasta sauce’s sharper, savory flavors.
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Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Toast black pepper and 2 Tbsp. pink pepper in a dry large skillet over medium, shaking often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 3 Tbsp. butter; cook, swirling pan, until butter foams, then begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in 4 oz. Pecorino and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid until combined. Add pasta, dates, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid; cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid if needed, until sauce is glossy and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. butter; toss to combine.
Divide pasta among plates or shallow bowls and top with lemon zest, more Pecorino, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pink pepper. Season with sea salt.