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Giada De Laurentiis on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Vespa

Sometimes, you just need an easy, pantry dinner that you can whip up in a jiffy. That's when we turn to classics like our Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Kale and Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing—simple meals that we can whip up with what we already have on hand. Now we're adding another recipe to our go-to list: Giada De Laurentiis' "Perfect Pasta." (If you're the kind of cook who keeps bacon, Parmesan and pecorino on hand, Giada's super-cozy Pasta Alla Gricia works too.)

Giada shared her measurement-free recipe on TikTok, where commenters were quick to say that the dish "looks amazing." All you'll need to copy this recipe is your favorite short pasta (it looks like Giada used trottolle), garlic, a lemon and some pantry staples—olive oil, salt and pepper.

To start, Giada brings a large pot of water to a boil, then adds plenty of salt. "Add a lot of salt," she suggests in the video. "Make it taste like the sea." But she doesn't want you to add any olive oil to your pot—while some people use olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking, it can also keep the sauce from sticking to your pasta, according to De Laurentiis. Instead, you should be sure to use a pot that's tall enough to allow your pasta to move around freely rather than clump together. (It looks like Giada uses this 8-quart stainless steel pot from Made In.) She adds the pasta to the boiling sea water and gets to work on her sauce.

Giada starts with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small skillet. While any olive oil will do, she uses oil with three red chiles in the cruet for a little extra heat. (You could use a little store-bought chili crisp oil, like Fly by Jing's, to amp up the flavor, or make your own at home.) To the heating oil, she adds chopped garlic, plus the zest and juice of one lemon and some freshly cracked black pepper. Using a spider, like this Farberware option (buy it: $6, Amazon), she strains the al dente pasta and adds it to her sauté pan. 

It's important not to strain the pasta into a colander in the sink, since Giada uses a ladleful of still-boiling water to help emulsify the sauce and bind it to the pasta. (If you don't have a spider-style strainer, you could dip a measuring cup into the boiling pasta water right before the pasta is ready, then put it aside until you're ready to add it in.) As De Laurentiis says, "pasta water is gold." The starchy liquid can take a sauce from oily to silky in seconds—that's why it's a critical part of so many of our favorite one-pot pasta recipes.

You probably won't need to salt this recipe, since the pasta water should still be about as "salty as the sea," but you should still taste your finished product to make sure it doesn't need more garlic or pepper. While this lemony pasta is basically ready to eat, you could add in whatever yummy accoutrements you have on hand. In the video, Giada sprinkles in some greens and a little crumbled sausage, but we bet Parmesan, fresh herbs or juicy cherry tomatoes would be worthy additions, too.

Whatever you add, just be sure to kick back and enjoy this simple, two-pot meal with your drink of choice and a little extra cracked black pepper on top—you deserve something delicious.