The Cheese That Lidia Bastianich Swears By For Pasta

For many, pasta isn't complete unless there's some kind of cheese involved. Whether it be the ricotta in the ravioli, the parmesan in carbonara, or the Pecorino Romano in cacio e pepe, cheese is the basis of many Italian staples. Even non-traditional pasta dishes like the baked feta pasta popularized by TikTok use cheese as the star ingredient.

As important as cheese is to pasta, however, the type you use can make a big difference. After all, if you made fettuccine alfredo with cheddar cheese, it probably wouldn't taste like fettuccine alfredo at all. Just take it from Lidia Bastianich. Flip through the pages of her cookbooks or watch any episode of "Lidia's Italy" and you'll notice she finishes off nearly all her pasta dishes with a generous heap of freshly grated cheese. You might assume that it's the standard parmesan, but as she revealed to a fan on Twitter, the best option is actually another hard Italian cheese.

Lidia Bastianich uses grana padano for pasta

As Bastianich explained in a post on the Lidia's Italy blog, Grana Padano is a mild cheese with a granular texture. Its versatility makes it a popular choice in Italian households (including Bastianich's). When you add Grana Padano to pasta, it's more than just cheesiness you're adding — you're also adding another layer of flavor. Per Culture Magazine, Grana Padano often undergoes a multi-year aging period, during which it has the chance to develop a complex flavor profile with sweeter notes like caramel, butterscotch, and fruit.

Lidia Bastianich recommends grating Grana Padano over pasta just before serving, rather than when it's still on the stove. "You don't want to cook the cheese," she explained to TODAY. "Instead, you want the cheese to kind of fold in and melt in because then you conserve all of the aromas and flavor of the cheese at its best." As for how much Grana Padano she adds, Bastianich says you can never have too much. She even keeps it on the table so her dinner guests can pile it on to their liking.