Giada De Laurentiis White Pesto Review (15 minutes)

At least once a week, I feel so scattered that I'm at a loss for what to feed my family at dinner time. For those moments, I have a handful of back-pocket meals I can whip out: eggs over rice, sesame soba noodles, and Giada De Laurentiis' white pesto pasta, a creamy alfredo-like pasta topped with toasted walnuts. Ricotta, and salty Parmesan.

After making this pasta more than a dozen times, I can attest that it's the easiest weeknight pasta that's cheap to make, satisfying to taste—you'll need to finish your meal. So there will be no need to add any side.

Just Recipes / Myo Quinn

How I Make Giada's White Pesto Pasta

I can whip up this pasta in under 15 minutes and so can you. Here's how:

Grab the widest lidded pot or brazier you own. The wider the pot, the faster the water will boil. Keeping the lid on also helps it boil faster. Below, I've included a photo of my go-to braiser when I need to cook pasta in a hurry.

Fill the pot with water and add salt generously. For about four quarts of water, I add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Place the pot on high heat and cover. As soon as it boils, add one pound of pasta. I highly recommend Wegman's Amore Mafaldine or a pasta shape with covered edges that the sauce can cling to, like farfalle, fusilli, or campanelle.

Just Recipes / Myo Quinn

When the pasta is cooked, make the white pesto. In a food processor, pulse one cup toasted walnuts until finely ground. I buy toasted walnuts specifically for this recipe. If you're raw, you'll want to toast them. Here's how to toast walnuts in the oven or on the stove.

Add one cup each of ricotta and grated Parmesan cheese, half a cup of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Process until fully combined.

Use a mug to drain a cup of pasta water—you'll need it to thin the pesto. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink and return the pasta to the pot. Scrape the white pesto over the pasta, add the pasta water, and use tongs to toss the pasta and sauce together.

I like to squeeze in fresh lemon juice to brighten things up, but be aware that the pasta will taste quite lemony. Although not necessary, you can top the pasta with fresh basil leaves like Giada does. I rarely have fresh basil, especially in the winter — I promise it would be delicious anyway.

Don't have a food processor?

You don't need a food processor, mortar and pestle or blender to make white pesto. Finely chop the walnuts using a chef's knife and cutting board, or place them in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin. Finely mince the garlic (I use a microplane). Place the finely ground walnuts and minced garlic in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir vigorously until combined.

What to use instead of walnuts

Do you dislike or have an allergy to walnuts? I ran out of walnuts and made a white pesto without them. Just double the Parmesan cheese (two cups total) or use toasted pine nuts, blanched almonds, or cashews instead. Almonds are quite strong, so grind them as finely as possible so that they are not too bitter in the sauce.

Just Recipes / Myo Quinn

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