Giada De Laurentiis' #1 Tip for Making Your Favorite Creamy Pasta Healthier

You need just one ingredient to make the Food Network star's cream-free "cream" sauce.

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Portrait of Giada De Laurentiis
Photo: Getty Images / Rob Kim

Ever since Giada De Laurentiis schooled us on the pasta-making mistake many of us have been making all along, our noodle-based noshes have been leveled up. Now, the Food Network and Discovery star, cookbook author, Italian food pro and mom is back with a smart solution for our sauce!

In the past decade, recipe developers and food manufacturers have found ways to create pasta sauces that sneak in more veggies (see: Otamot Organic Carrot Bolognese Sauce; $28.99 for four 16-ounce jars, Amazon) to trade veggies and nuts for dairy (like in our Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo and Creamy Vegan Cashew Sauce) and found other unique ways to infuse more nutrition or cut back on calories in our favorite pasta entrees.

So what makes De Laurentiis' sauce special? The fact that you need literally one ingredient—employed in a unique way—to create a low-fuss, cream-free cream sauce.

It's "one of @Giadadelaurentiis' favorite methods to make a lightened-up version of a cream sauce," according to the team who runs the Instagram account for her food site, Giadzy, and the technique used for her Whole Wheat Linguine with Ricotta, Green Beans, and Tomatoes recipe shown in the picture.

"This pasta gets its creamy sauce from a combination of part-skim ricotta and water, which come together to make a really easy, lighter cream sauce," De Laurentiis says of the recipe.

To try it yourself, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain 1 pound of noodles (De Laurentiis calls for whole-wheat linguine in her dish, but any type works). Once drained, toss the pasta with ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese (like 365 by Whole Foods Market Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese; $3.99 for 15 ounces, Amazon). If you're adding vegetables to your pasta—which of course we always recommend—sauté them in a skillet with some garlic, season with salt and add the reserved pasta water to the skillet after about 4 minutes. Complete the dish by mixing the ricotta-coated noodles with the pasta water and veggie mixture.

No messy cauliflower-rice making, no cashew soaking and no cream required...just a silky, scrumptious yet light cream sauce, all thanks to starchy water and part-skim ricotta. We plan to start with De Laurentiis' Whole Wheat Linguine with Ricotta, Green Beans, and Tomatoes, of course, then try our super-similar sauce strategy in this 3-Ingredient Goat Cheese Pasta with Broccoli.

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