Giada De Laurentiis’ Spaghetti Nests Are a Kid-Friendly Easter Dish

Giada De Laurentiis is a Food Network star known for her love of pasta. She has an Italian Thanksgiving menu with classic turkey day dishes as well as Italian favorites. The celebrity chef does the same thing with Easter. She puts a holiday spin on spaghetti to make it fit for any Easter celebration. 

Giada De Laurentiis sneaks greens in by adding spinach to her Spaghetti Nests

Giada De Laurentiis smiles as she stands at a table while attending Food Network's 25th Birthday Party during the 2018 New York City Wine & Food Festival
Giada De Laurentiis | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Food Network

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On an episode of her Food Network show, Giada at Home, De Laurentiis made Spaghetti Nests for her daughter, Jade, and her friends. She got the idea from a Southern Italian dish her own mom made her growing up. Gluten, dairy, carbs? No problem. The Spaghetti Nests are part of De Laurentiis’ food philosophy of having a little bit of everything.

Once the spaghetti is cooked, the cookbook author shared she likes to mix it with two cups of chopped spinach leaves. The key is combining it while the spaghetti’s still hot. That way the spinach wilts. 

“With all the cheese and the rest of the fun they’re going to forget there’s spinach in it,” she said in a video on Food Network‘s website.

When that doesn’t work, get creative. 

“I told Jade that it’s grass for the nest so the little baby birds can be comfortable,” she added before saying, “Most of the time it works.”

Kids fill Giada De Laurentiis’ Spaghetti Nests with mozzarella balls to look like eggs

De Laurentiis does all the steps of making the Spaghetti Nests so all the kids have to do is add toppings. The celebrity chef splits the spaghetti between four small springform pans — like the ones used for making a cheesecake — and bakes them in the oven for about 15 minutes. 

Once they’re cooked, she pops them out of the springform pans and gives one to each kid. From there, the kids can pick their own toppings — marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella balls, or Parmesan cheese — to complete their egg nests. 

How to make Giada De Laurentiis’ Spaghetti Nests

To start, grease 4-inch diameter springform pans with butter. Also preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water for the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti for 8 to 10 minutes being sure to stir occasionally.

Once the spaghetti is done, drain the water. But don’t worry if there’s still some water in the pan. It’ll help with the sauce, according to De Laurentiis.

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Grate the Parmesan cheese and chop the spinach leaves before adding them to the hot spaghetti. While it’s cooling, whisk the milk — De Laurentiis recommends whole milk “because you need the fat to hold it all together” —  egg, and salt mixture. 

Then pour it over the spaghetti before transferring it to the springform pans. Make a well in the middle of each “nest” before putting them in the oven. Once baked, let cool for 10 minutes before adding the toppings. 

Ingredients for Giada De Laurentiis’ Spaghetti Nests:

  • Butter, for greasing the pans

Pasta:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 box spaghetti (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 packed cups spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

To Assemble:

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
  • 12 small fresh mozzarella balls, such as ciliegine or bocconcini