Good Enough to Read: Everyday Pasta

Pasta doesn't have to be fattening. Everyday Pasta by Giada DeLaurentiis, features light, smart ways to prepare it.
Everyday PastaGood Enough to Read

You can't lose with a book about Giada De Laurentiis and pasta. Giada, of course, is the slender Food Network star with the big smile and deep cleavage. And pasta is, well, pasta — the food we all love but fear we have to give up when we want to lose weight.

Not so, says De Laurentiis in the introduction. Pasta contains practically no fat and, when it's eaten in moderation, is reasonably low in calories. The problem is the super-sized portions that Americans have come to regard as normal, and the heavy, cheese-butter-and-cream sauces in which we sometimes drown our noodles. Can anyone say Fettucine Alfredo?

To prove that pasta doesn't have to be fattening, De Laurentiis calls one of her chapters, "On the Lighter Side." In it, she uses a pound of pasta to make six servings (very Italian), and makes fast, fresh, vegetable-filled sauces of saffron-flavored shrimp, or sautéed onions and feta. Another chapter gives recipes for pasta soups and pasta salads (not very Italian this time, but very delicious.)

A few of the recipes are classics, but more are Giada-classics, which means that they use familiar ingredients in a slightly unfamiliar way. Instead of familiar caprese salad of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, Giada piles cheese and tomatoes on baguette slices and bakes them, then tops each warm mouthful with a basil leaf. Instead of using day-old Italian bread in a panzanella, or bread salad, she uses cubes of absolutely American cornbread.

But the chapter you'll probably turn to most is the one on quick and easy weeknight pastas, the kind of dish where the sauce can be made while the noodles cook. These are as toddler-friendly as Little Stars with Butter and Parmesan (the title says it all) and as sophisticated as farfalle with broccoli and a seriously grown-up hit of anchovies.

No-Apologies Pasta and Chick Pea Soup
This main-course soup is so satisfying that you won't notice that it has no meat except the breath of richness from pancetta. Vegetarians can cut out the pancetta and substitute water or vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Pureeing some of the beans and putting them back in the pot makes the soup feel even more substantial.

Pasta e Ceci

Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 large fresh rosemary spring
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
  • 3 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce cans) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3/4 cup ditalini (thimble-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Wrap the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine to make a sachet. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes and herb sachet. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.
  2. Transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture to a blender and reserve. Add the ditalini to the soup pot, cover, and bring the liquid back to a boil. Boil gently until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Puree the reserved bean mixture until smooth, then stir the puree into the boiling soup. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Easily Improved Corkscrews with Salmon and Garlic
This garlic-fragrant dish is pretty healthy as it stands. You could make it slightly more so by halving or cutting out the wine; the lemon juice and zest add enough acid to the broth. And, of course, make that pound of noodles serve six, not four, people.

Rotini with Salmon and Roasted Garlic

Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound rotini or fusilli (corkscrew-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 cup Marsala or white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp drained capers


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the heads of garlic in half crosswise and place on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the foil up and around the garlic, making sure it stays flat, and fold the edges to seal into a tight packet. Roast until soft, about 60 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then squeeze the cloves out of the skin. Mash half of the roasted garlic cloves into a paste with the back of a fork. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the Marsala and chicken broth in a large heavy skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the mashed roasted garlic and stir to dissolve. Simmer uncovered for 4 minutes, then add the salmon, cover, and simmer for 4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and add the remaining whole roasted garlic cloves, the lemon zest and juice, rosemary and the cooked pasta. Stir to combine; add the extra-virgin olive oil, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir once more. Serve immediately.

Notes from Giada DeLaurentiis

  • This may seem like a lot of garlic, but because it's roasted, it only contributes a mellow, nutty flavor that goes beautifully with the salmon. Capers and lemon zest add some brightness to the dish, which is a perfect light spring meal.
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