Giada De Laurentiis Pasta with Almond Pesto Is an ‘Almost No-Cook’ Weeknight Meal

Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis gives pesto sauce a new spin by using almonds instead of the classic recipe’s more traditional pine nuts. It’s a flavorful, colorful dish that’s also a perfect weeknight dinner.

Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis wears a short-sleeved yellow dress in this photograph.
Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis | Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

De Laurentiis’ pasta and pesto recipe is ‘almost’ no-cook

As the Simply Giada star writes on her lifestyle and food blog, Giadzy, this recipe couldn’t be easier.

“This pasta dish is almost no-cook,” she explained. “Really, the only cooking required is the boiling of the pasta. Once that’s done, simply whip up a quick almond pesto and toss it with sweet cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese – mix in the orecchiette pasta, and dinner is ready!

“It’s just as delicious warm as it is as cold. This is a super easy weeknight pasta that can easily work for anything from family dinner to a picnic or even a dinner party.”

Get the complete recipe, video, and reviews on Food Network’s site.

Giada De Laurentiis’ dish is an easy weeknight meal

With just seven ingredients — broccoli rabe, roasted unsalted almonds, fresh basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, diced fresh mozzarella cheese, and orecchiette pasta — De Laurentiis’ dish comes together quickly.

First, the chef boils the orecchiette (which in Italian means “little ears”) pasta, and while that’s cooking, starts on the pesto.

The unsalted almonds are placed in a food processor: “What I want to do first is to start breaking up the almonds by themselves,” De Laurentiis says in the Food Network video (above) for this recipe. Now, the basil leaves and salt are added next and pulsed with the almonds, followed by a stream of olive oil that brings the sauce together.

She pours the pesto into a bowl and the Parmesan cheese is stirred in, along with blanched broccoli rabe (“I think it holds up really nicely with the almonds”). Cubed fresh mozzarella cheese is added.

“The pesto is kind of like the base sauce and then you can add lots of different flavors to it, which is why I love it so much,” the Giada at Home host says, adding, “It’s the kind of thing that can sit at room temperature; you don’t have to worry about it being piping hot, which is really nice when you’re going to entertain.”

Another pesto sauce variation from Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis

She adds the pasta straight from the boiling water (“You want it to be slightly toothsome, but not too much”) and tosses it with the pesto mixture. More Parmesan cheese is added over the hot pasta: “That way, the cheese sticks to the pasta and the sauce sticks to the cheese.”

The result is a satisfying, fresh-tasting pesto sauce and pasta.

De Laurentiis’ pesto dish got thumbs ups from reviewers

Home cooks were impressed with this truly easy, delicious pasta dish, and wrote about it on Food Network’s site.

Reviewers said, “Fantastic!!,” “Great recipe and easy to prepare.”

Another fan of the recipe noted, “Incredible! The almond basil pesto is so refreshing and nutty. It really adds enough extra flavor to the broccolini and pasta to make you want that next bite.”

RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis’ Time-Saving Hack for Fresh and Quick Pasta Primavera