Q&A | Giada De Laurentiis keeps pasta and a good chef’s knife close at hand

Updated: 2012-03-25T01:48:04Z


The Kansas City Star

JOB DESCRIPTION: Host of “Giada at Home” on Food Network, host of several programs on Cooking Channel, regular contributor on NBC’s “Today” show and cookbook author, giadadelaurentiis.com

Q. What do you like to have in your pantry at all times?

A. Dry pastas of different shapes, flavors and flours including whole grain, brown rice, corn and others. Jarred tomato sauces that list the first ingredient as tomatoes not sugar. I keep sundried tomatoes, vinegars, garlic and olive oil. Dried herbs; my favorite is herbes de Provence. Then you just have to supplement with fresh meat or fish and produce.

Q. What kitchen tools are vital for making quick meals at home?

A. A really great chef’s knife. You don’t need a set, just something that feels good in your hand. Also a paring knife and a bread-slicing serrated knife. Nonstick skillets, a pasta pot and a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Q. What’s your personal design style?

A. Modern Italian. Very little gussied up.

Q. Tell us about your kitchen.

A. Very white. The floors, the countertops, everywhere. I like how light bounces off white. It’s a Calvin Klein look, pretty clean. When it came to designing it, I wanted the coffee maker, the microwave, the refrigerator and the dishwasher to disappear behind doors. I have pops of color from my red cookware from Target.

Q. Besides your kitchen, what’s your favorite room in your home?

A. My bathroom. I have an ocean view that is one of my favorites. It’s a great room to relax in after a busy day. I have an infinity bathtub (it’s designed for the bathwater to rise all the way to the top and overflow into the surrounding deep groove that has a drain built into it).

Q. How do you eat dinner on weeknights?

A. We have a center island with three stools in the kitchen. One of my favorite memories is sitting at the kitchen table with family. Sometimes we didn’t have enough chairs, so my parents would stand up.

Q. What do you and your daughter like to cook at home?

A. Cupcakes. We just made chocolate gluten-free cupcakes using coconut flour at her preschool. (Jade turns 4 Thursday). They licked chocolate out of the bowl. It was the most fun I’d had in a long time.

Q. Besides cooking, what do you and Jade like to do at home?

A. She has a play kitchen in her playroom with a little table and chairs. We’ll play restaurant. Sometimes she offers a menu, sometimes she serves me whatever. She “makes” stews, sandwiches and soups.

Q. Do you collect anything?

A. Little silver and gold spoons. I got some from my grandmother. When I travel, I get them from all over the world at mom-and-pop boutiques. Some are espresso spoons. I collect miniature forks, too.

Q. If you’re having company over during the week, what’s a fun, quick meal to make?

A. It’s interesting to have breakfast for dinner. I’ll make almond pancakes and Crispy Breakfast Pita on the stove. I also like a Thai dinner with turkey lettuce cups and spicy mint beef and salad. The lettuce cups take 15 minutes. Very fast. Very easy.

Crispy Breakfast Pita

This is a twist on a piadina, an Italian flatbread. For weeknight ease, instead of making a dough, I use store-bought pitas as the base. They get topped with a creamy mascarpone spread, a salty bite of prosciutto, a lightly dressed arugula salad and a fried egg. Serves 6.

6 (6-inch) pita breads

Extra-virgin olive oil

6 large eggs

¾ cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese

Grated zest of ½ large lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground

Black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush each side of the pita breads with ½ teaspoon olive oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp. Remove from the grill and cool slightly. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add the arugula and toss until coated. Spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Divide the prosciutto on top. Divide the arugula and mound on top of the prosciutto. Carefully place a fried egg on top of each pita. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and serve.

To reach Stacy Downs, call 816-234-4780 or send email to sdowns@kcstar.com.

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