Celebrate May flowers with Giada De Laurentiis’ 5 most budget-friendly spring recipes

These simple recipes don't skimp on flavor or place pressure on your bank account

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published May 2, 2023 1:00PM (EDT)

Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

As the age-old adage goes, spring showers bring May flowers. But with the new season also comes a slew of new recipes, all filled with brightly-colored produce, zesty flavors and spritzy beverages. Think caramelized lemon cacio e pepepotato-leek soup with spiced chickpeasspring pea salad or shrimp and corn "clambakes."

Spring is all about enjoying all the fresh foods your heart desires — and sharing them with good company!

It's also all about feasibility and affordability. A good spring recipe doesn't come at the expense of your bank account. And if anyone knows that to be true, it's Giada De Laurentiis, the queen of simple homemade meals. The lauded chef and television personality shared a few of her favorite spring recipes online. And to make things easier, she even filtered them based on their prices.

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From lemony pastas to refreshing salads and floral cakes, here are Giada's five most budget-friendly spring-themed recipes. All the listed recipes range anywhere between $10 to $25.

Sorrento Lemon Spaghetti

"Just a few stellar ingredients yields a light and creamy pasta with all the brightness of Amalfi Coast lemons, and the sweetness of Italian basil," Giada wrote. "This is Italian simplicity at its very best. Buon appetito!"


The spaghetti takes 15 minutes to whip up and calls for only five ingredients: Tuscan sea salt, one pound of spaghetti chitarra pasta (plain ol' spaghetti will do too), lemon infused olive oil (or you can add fresh lemon juice into olive oil), Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil leaves.     


To start, boil a large pot of water over high heat before adding the pasta. Cook the pasta until it's just barely al dente. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon oil, parmesan cheese and ½ cup of pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and coat it in the light sauce. Stir in the basil and add more cheese — and enjoy. That's it! 

Caprese Frittata

Nothing screams spring like a homemade frittata filled with fresh mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes! Giada's caprese frittata is a beautiful celebration of all things spring. Bonus? It also doesn't skimp on color or classic frittata flavors.


This recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil, cherry tomatoes, kosher salt, eggs (at room temperature), heavy cream, basil and mozzarella cheese. If you want, you can also add Prosciutto di Parma, additional cherry tomatoes and micro basil.


First, heat an oven-proof, nonstick skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle in the salt and cook the tomatoes until they are soft, for about four minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, heavy cream, basil and remaining salt until smooth and airy. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes, sprinkle with mozzarella and cook for two minutes. Loosen the cooked eggs from the sides of the pan using a rubber spatula, in order to allow the raw egg to cover the bottom of the pan. Let the frittata sit for another minute before placing it under the broiler and cooking for five to six minutes. Once finished, top the dish with prosciutto slices, halved tomatoes and micro basil.

Lavender Honey Cake

Looking to spruce up your vanilla cake recipe? Well then, look no further than Giada's recipe for Lavender Honey Cake. "The honey's light citrus notes followed by a slight floral element work really well with the lavender and lemon," Giada wrote. "The semolina adds a nice texture that makes this cake a little more substantial than usual." Our mouths are already watering.


This recipe begins with preparing the lavender syrup, which calls for water, lavender and sugar. Simmer the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat before turning the heat off and steeping for three minutes.


In the meantime, prepare the cake batter by whisking together flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, vanilla, olive oil, honey, eggs, lemon juice and cooled lavender syrup. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, pour into a prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Once the lavender syrup is cooled, pour it over the cake and finish it off with a dollop of fresh vanilla cream.

Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Bread Crumbs

What's so unique about orecchiette pasta is its ear-like shape, which allows for sauces, vegetables and meats to easily cling onto the pasta. Not only is this a budget-friendly spring pasta dish, it's also an easy weeknight meal that is perfect for beginners in the kitchen!


In addition to cauliflower, the pasta includes toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and anchovy filets for added umami flavor. To prepare, toss the chopped cauliflower in olive oil and salt before roasting for 20 to 25 minutes. Cook the orecchiette pasta until al dente and separately toast the breadcrumbs in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Remove the breadcrumbs and sauté garlic and anchovies in olive oil. Add chili flakes and cauliflower, making sure to coat it in the anchovy-infused oil. Mix in the pasta, remaining cheese and parsley. Toss in the breadcrumbs and more cheese before serving.

Honey Lavender Gin Spritz

The addition of lavender honey elevates this classic gin spritz into the perfect spring drink. All you need is lavender honey, gin, lemon juice, vanilla bean club soda and fresh or dried sprigs of lavender.


First, add the honey, gin and lemon juice to a tall glass. Stir it all together, making sure the honey dissolves completely. Add ice and finish it off with vanilla bean club soda. Top it with lavender sprigs and enjoy!

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Budget-friendly Food Giada De Laurentiis Seasonal Spring Recipes