Giada De Laurentiis’ Best Tips for Cooking Perfect Pasta Include Using 1 Ingredient She Calls ‘Gold’

Giada De Laurentiis has some easy tips for cooking perfect pasta and one of her biggest takeaways is to keep the pasta water rather than tossing it when draining pasta. The Food Network star makes a quick sauce that’s full of flavor but has some suggestions for doctoring jarred sauce, too.

Giada De Laurentiis wears a multi-colored, sleeveless dress and a smile as she prepares a meal for a 2016 event.
Giada De Laurentiis | David Becker/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit

Giada De Laurentiis shares her tips for perfect pasta

De Laurentiis shared her easiest pasta tips in a TikTok video that she later shared on Instagram. The Food Network star keeps it simple when it comes to making pasta and there are some steps in the process that are total game changers.

De Laurentiis’ short and sweet video had all the goods for elevating your pasta game. “How to make the perfect pasta,” she said in a voiceover as the video showed a pot of boiling water. “Boil your water. Add salt,” she said. And don’t skimp on the salt. “Add A LOT of salt — make it taste like the sea.”

She advised skipping olive oil in the pot, saying, “Olive oil? No. Never.” Then she added the pasta and cooked it.

De Laurentiis’ pasta sauce is so easy to pull together. She combined olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper in a saucepan.

The Food Network star recommends saving the pasta water

When the pasta was finished cooking, she used a strainer kitchen tool to pull it from the water, rather than draining it in a colander in the sink.

De Laurentiis also offered a big tip: “Don’t strain your pasta water.”

She placed the pasta in the sauce and kept the pasta water hot, ladling it into the sauce to thin it out to the right consistency. “Pasta water is gold,” she shared.

When the dish was finished, she exclaimed, “Now, delicious pasta!”

Giada De Laurentiis’ tips for upgrading jarred pasta sauce

De Laurentiis also has some easy ways to make a store-bought jar of sauce more delicious. In a 2020 Giadzy post, the Food Network star shared “tips to take marinara from good to great!”

“Let’s face it — in a perfect world we’d make homemade pomodoro every night, but in reality, we reach for the jar of store-bought marinara quite often,” De Laurentiis explained. “While there are plenty of good sauces available at the grocery store, we find the need to sometimes amp up the flavor a bit.”

De Laurentiis said tasting the sauce first helps to identify how to amplify the flavors.

The Food Network star likes to “build flavor” by cooking onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes before adding it to the sauce. She also adds basil sprigs for the “quintessential sweet Italian flavor” and a rind of Parmigiano Reggiano for “rich, salty flavor.” De Laurentiis also likes to add heat with chili paste or red pepper flakes.

A bit of butter can also add a creamy texture to sauce. “Giada swears by adding a tablespoon of butter to her tomato sauce at the very end,” the post notes. “Even a small amount of butter can completely change the texture of the sauce, making it more velvety and creamy!”

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