Welcome to Celebrity Chef, a column from Refinery29 where we embark on a culinary mission to find, make, and try recipes and food hacks from our favorite stars. No flavor combination is too wacky, no tip or trick too bold, and no questionable creation goes un-tasted.
We're always on the hunt for new and crafty ways to whip up a speedy, yet still impressive, homemade pasta dish. Last week we got the chance to sit down and chat with the queen of easy-to-execute Italian food herself: Giada De Laurentiis. The Food Network star not only wowed us with her culinary skills and literal glow — yes, she smells like fresh mascarpone and her eyes sparkle — but she also blessed us with a cheesy nugget of next-level knowledge: a hack that promised to forever change the way we make our most beloved dish.
When we asked De Laurentiis what her best tips and hacks for making pasta were, she said the following: "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." Our minds raced: Of course! It seems so obvious to us now. Why hadn't we thought of this before? It's genius. And so we tested out the cheesy promise for ourselves — although though deep down, we already knew that Giada only speaks the purest pasta truth.
We began by heating a jar of pasta sauce in a skillet over medium heat. While the sauce heated, we boiled a pot of water, added in our pasta, and waited for al-dente magic to happen. Once the sauce was simmering and the noodles were done, we strained (reserving a bit of that starchy water for a little extra oomph in our sauce) and emptied the pasta into the sauce-filled pan. Then came the cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. We let the mound of shredded Parmesan sit for a moment (okay, several) to ensure it really got a grip on the noods. Then once we were fairly certain things had cemented, we got to stirring. The below, glorious image is what ensued. Feast your eyes:
It was pure cheesy pasta perfection as De Laurentiis had promised. We couldn't look away or put the serving spoon down. (We ate it pan to face, obviously.) Each bite was filled with a warm and well-coated blanket of melted Parm that melded harmoniously with the pasta and sauce. In short, it was lit and our pasta will never be the same again. Thank you, Giada, for revolutionizing the way we use store-bought sauce.