Giada De Laurentiis' Genius Cheese Hack Will Forever Change The Way You Make Pasta

Photo: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma.
Giada De Laurentiis is THE queen of easy-to-execute pasta recipes — and we love pasta. The Italian-born and Emmy award-winning Food Network star, known for her hit show Everyday Italian and Giada at Home (among others), has been whipping up enviable, yet accessible dishes since the early 2000s. On top of that, this celebrated chef also happens to be the author of several (eight to be exact) best-selling cookbooks. But at the end of the day she's really just a kick-ass, grilled cheese- and quesadilla-loving cook (and that, we can majorly relate to). Which is exactly why we couldn't wait to sit down with De Laurentiis at her recent kickoff event for a new collaboration with Williams Sonoma — centered around, you guessed it, pasta. In addition to giving us a rundown on the covetable new line of sauces, seasonings, and tools, De Laurentiis also shared a few genius cooking hacks. (Plus, she dished on the foods she wouldn't dream of touching: airplanes and Panda Express are involved.) Check out her pasta tips and more, below.
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What are some of your best pasta tips and hacks?
I always tell people that when grating or adding Parmesan cheese to your pasta, you should start by heating the sauce in a skillet, so it has enough room to disperse and heat up. Add the pasta to it, and then you grate the cheese on top of the pasta before you toss. So, once you start tossing, the cheese has already melted on the pasta and the sauce sticks to the cheese that sticks to the pasta. You get this really creamy mixture and every bite has a little bit of everything. It’s the perfect bite of pasta, cheese, and sauce.
What's a secret for sprucing up a lackluster store-bought sauce?
For a store-bought sauce, what you could do is just take a chunk of Parmesan cheese, or Parmesan cheese rind, and throw it in the sauce while you are heating it — it gives it a velvety, cheesy texture. I use Parmesan cheese rinds in all of my sauces, pretty much.
What's your favorite tool from the new partnership?
The grater is my absolute favorite because I can use it for so many different things. I love the way that you can hold it down and really control whatever it is you’re grating, and the solid bottom makes it so nothing’s moving around. I feel like sometimes graters are really cumbersome, hard to hold down, and just so big that you can’t move around — so this is very ergonomic in the way that it works.
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What's your favorite kitchen tool in general?
I would probably say my chefs knife. I can’t live without my chefs knife; I travel with it, I bring it everywhere.
What would your ideal meal be if you didn't have to cook it?
Sushi.
What’s your go-to for a quick dinner when you’re busy?
Sometimes just crostini with a little bit of cheese and whatever jarred sauce I have around. Or, a grilled cheese — my daughter loves grilled cheeses. And sometimes a quesadilla — both of us like that too. I like to add lots of different cheeses, and sometimes I add prosciutto, sometimes I add salami — it just depends.
What’s your favorite snack to pack for when you’re on the go?
Almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and popcorn — it’s a mix. I like it because I can take it anywhere, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and I can snack on it any time of day, anywhere that I am. I get salty and sweet, but also a little protein from the nuts — so it all evens out.
Is there a food that you really hate?
Coconut and green peppers. The third would be pumpkin.
What are your thoughts on airplane food?
Oh, I don’t eat it — no, I don't touch airplane food.
Is there anything that you ate in your 20s that you wouldn’t dare touch today?
I would say, Panda Express. When I was in my 20s, I worked in a mall, at Ann Taylor in the Santa Monica Place, and for some ungodly reason I thought that Panda Express was healthy food. Yep. So would not touch it now.
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This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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