The kitchen is Lidia Bastianich‘s ship and she is the captain.
For our exclusive video series What I Really Cook for Dinner, the cookbook author and restaurateur takes PEOPLE inside the New York City home she’s been cooking in for over 35 years. Fans may recognize the sprawling space as the backdrop for many of her early television shows.
“Here, I raised my children and my grandchildren,” she says. Now, “it’s [just] grandma and I, but still this big table is always full.”
The kitchen is equipped with a rotisserie grill (a subject of many fan emails), a giant stove Bastianich refers to as “my Ferrari” and a gorgeous waterfront view.
“I need to see my stove, then I need to see my table, the guests, and of course nature, water, beauty, flowers,” she says. “I need that to stimulate me to feel good. I cook better when it looks better, just like a typical Italian.”
Before whipping up a lunch of spaghetti with shrimp in basil sauce for herself and grandma, Bastianich picks fresh vegetables and herbs from her lush garden. There she grows pepperoncini, tomatoes, parsley, basil and so much more.
The secret to the chef’s quick pasta dish is to never rinse your spaghetti so you retain all the “starchiness,” she says. “You know that old story, throw the pasta to the wall, if it sticks it’s done? There’s some truth to that.”
And for dessert, it’s fresh strawberries in an orange and balsamic glaze. “This is an elegant and yet simple Italian meal,” she says.
Lidia Bastianich’s Spaghetti with Shrimp and Basil Sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for the pot
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, shrimp halved crosswise
1 lb. spaghetti
4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 hot pickled cherry pepper, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tbsp. loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and toss until the shrimp curl and turn white, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
2. Once the shrimp are out of the pan, add the spaghetti to boiling water. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet, along with the garlic, shallot, cherry pepper, and remaining salt. Cook until the shallot is almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine, and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Coarsely chop the herbs and set aside. Add 1 cup pasta water, and simmer to reduce by half, just while the spaghetti finishes cooking. Remove garlic.
3. When the spaghetti is al dente, remove with tongs and transfer directly to the sauce. Add the shrimp and any juices collected from the plate, the chopped herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and black pepper to taste. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve immediately.