Giada De Laurentiis' All Time Favorite Cheese For Pasta Is Easy To Come By

Giada De Laurentiis is arguably the queen of pasta — and she knows her way around the perfect cheeses to pair with pasta dishes. The former Food Network star has some of her favorite pasta dishes, along with her favorite cheese to use in each.

Thankfully for home cooks everywhere, De Laurentiis' favorite cheese to incorporate into pasta dishes isn't something that you can only buy in specialty stores. It's also closely related to a type of cheese that you probably already pair with a variety of types of pasta, which speaks volumes about its versatility. If your goal is to cook like De Laurentiis, stocking up on this cheese and experimenting with it in your go-to pasta dishes is an easy way to create new flavor combinations that'll stand out. 

This tasty cheese is Pecorino Romano, and it's readily available in supermarkets everywhere, so the next time you're looking to add something new to your pasta recipe, start by picking some up. You won't regret it — and you may even find that it gives your pasta a low-key but delicious upgrade.

What is Pecorino Romano?

Giada De Laurentiis has revealed that some of her favorite Italian dishes to cook call for the same type of cheese. As it turns out, De Laurentiis is a big fan of transforming ordinary pasta into dishes like Cacio e Pepe or Pecorino Tartufo, both of which include Pecorino Romano cheese.

What exactly is Pecorino Romano, and what makes it work so well with pasta? Like other cheeses that you might use in Italian food, it's a hard cheese, so it can easily hold up to being grated or shaven. It also has a sharp, salty flavor that can add depth and richness to a meal that a milder cheese can't, but the extent of the sharpness depends on its aging process. (Pecorino Romano that has aged longer tends to be sharper in flavor.) 

The cheese is also 50 percent fat, and the high fat content makes the cheese creamier than its lower-fat alternatives. Creamy cheeses can pair exceptionally well with pasta because they can easily bolster sauces and lend themselves to richer flavors. De Laurentiis' favorite cheese certainly sounds like the perfect addition to pasta, and surely enough, many pasta recipes call for it.

What's the difference between Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese?

If you've spotted both Romano and Parmesan cheeses at the grocery store, you may have difficulty distinguishing between them. But despite its apparent similarities to Parmesan, Giada De Laurentiis' favorite cheese, Pecorino Romano, strays further from Parmesan than you might believe.

The key difference between Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheeses lies in the type of milk used to make each. Parmesan cheese is made with cow's milk, while Pecorino Romano is made with sheep's milk. But the differences don't end there. Parmesan ages longer than Pecorino Romano, which affects its texture — Parmesan is dry and slightly more crumbly; Pecorino Romano is creamier. The aging differences also translate to noticeable contrasts in flavor. Pecorino is salty and sharp, while Parmesan is milder with subtle notes of sweetness throughout. 

Although either cheese is a winning addition to nearly any pasta dish, we'll take it from De Laurentiis: Pecorino Romano will add a new balance of flavors to your pasta, and it's definitely worth buying on your next grocery store trip.