Alex Guarnaschelli's Go-To Method To Dress Up Non-Dairy Pasta Sauce

When you want to make a pasta dish that is dairy-free, Alex Guarnaschelli has a go-to method to dress up the pasta sauce that doesn't rely on the buttery, velvet consistency of cream or the savory goodness of cheese. An additional upside of her method is it doesn't sacrifice flavor, either. Guarnaschelli told Insider if you want to create a dairy-free sauce, you should try adding some "chopped walnuts or a dollop of mustard."

There are plenty of sauces and pesto that rely on nuts to create a creamy element, including walnut pasta sauce, which generally consists of chopped walnuts, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs. Because nuts are rich in oil and flavor, they can make for some of the most delicious sauces. While Guarnaschelli forgoes adding the Parmesan cheese to keep it dairy-free, she says you can "thicken" the sauce and add some "body" to it by adding a "splash of the pasta cooking water." When using this recipe, the "Chopped" judge recommends adding a "dash of balsamic" to brighten the taste.

Don't throw out the pasta water

As it turns out, that's not the only dairy-free option Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli turns to when it comes to crafting delicious meals. Guarnaschelli believes that lemon can enhance the taste of many dishes, as well as pasta sauce. While speaking to Insider, she suggested adding a spoonful of pasta water to a pan of garlic cloves cooked in olive oil, lemon zest, and some ground-up, toasted almonds to create a one-of-a-kind sauce to coat your pasta. The end result is a taste that is both citrusy and earthy. In addition to being dairy-free, this lemon fresh pasta sauce is quick and easy to make, meaning you can throw it together on a busy work night. 

Don't skimp on the pasta cooking water, either. This liquid gold is an essential component in dairy-free sauces because it acts as the adhesive element that helps the sauce stick to the pasta. The starchy nature of pasta water makes it the perfect ingredient to add to both dairy and dairy-free pasta that is made in a pan.