We're definitely guilty of goofing up #1.
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Giada De Laurentiis on a designed background next to a pot with boiling water and pasta
Credit: Getty Images / Michael Tran / rarrarorro

The perfect pasta entree doesn't require a cart full of ingredients—in fact, Giada De Laurentiis says you essentially only need three. The Italian American chef, cookbook author, restaurateur and Food Network TV host is a firm believer that there are several missteps you can make during the preparation process that can derail your dinner.

Hot on the heels of the debut of her new show, Simply Giada, that's inspired by her healthy eating cookbook (buy it: $19.48, Amazon), De Laurentiis took to TikTok to take us all back to spaghetti school. Ready to enroll in Pasta 101?

ICYMI, the chef clued us in about the top mistake most people make when whipping up a batch of pasta from scratch when we hopped on a video chat with her last March. This demonstration is for those of us who start with a box of dried pasta more frequently.

The 4 Mistakes You're Making When Cooking Pasta, According to Giada De Laurentiis

"How to make the perfect pasta," De Laurentiis says, to kick off the video. Or how to avoid the most common spaghetti snafus. (Or macaroni, fettuccine, fusilli…you get the idea!)

  1. You don't salt the water enough. To a pot of boiling water, "add a LOT of salt. Make it taste like the sea," she says. Then dump in the pasta.
  2. You add olive oil to the pasta water. It's a myth that this prevents the pasta from sticking together. And it actually yields such a slippery "shell" on each noodle that it will be difficult to get your sauce to stick.
  3. You overcomplicate the sauce. Start by mastering something simple and classic first. If your noodles are cooked to perfection, then you don't need to disguise them. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil, then toss in minced or grated garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and black pepper. Sauté until the garlic is aromatic and lightly golden.
  4. You strain your pasta water. Skip the colander and employ something like a Spider Skimmer (buy it: $22, Sur La Table) to scoop the al dente pasta up from the pasta water. De Laurentiis shouts,"Don't strain your pasta water!" Instead, keep it in the warm pot, then use a ladle to transfer just enough to turn that garlicky lemon mixture into a sauce. "Pasta water is gold," she says.

Garnish as desired—she opts for chopped walnuts and fresh herbs—and your perfect plate of pasta is all set to savor. For a similar recipe that offers exact amounts and directions, check out Giada's Cacio e Pepe with Pancetta and Arugula.

Craving something cheesy? Try this Pasta Alla Gricia that De Laurentiis calls "a Hug in a Bowl", then keep the Italian feasting going with 14 Giada De Laurentiis recipes we can't stop making.