Food Network star shares recipes


April 06, 2005|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,SUN STAFF

It is hard to believe that Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis cooks Italian everyday. After all, her smile is bigger than her waist.

But that is the title of her cooking show and her new cookbook: Everyday Italian (Clarkson Potter, 2004, $30). And a glimpse inside reveals at least one of her secrets: sauceless pasta.

The granddaughter of Italian movie producer Dino De Laurentiis (Serpico, Ragtime) was born in Rome and spent her early life there, among relatives who loved pasta. It was only when she came to Los Angeles that she discovered Americans loved sauce more.

"Italians like pasta dishes in which the texture and the flavor of the pasta are just as important as the accompaniment," she writes in her introduction to her chapter on sauceless pasta.

The key, she says, is the salty, slightly starchy cooking liquid. She uses it to dress pasta tossed with flavorful meats, mushrooms, cheeses and vegetables.

This, she writes, "lets you really enjoy what can be best about pasta dishes: the pasta." And it cuts down the calories, too.

Trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris, De Laurentiis favored making pastries. But her heart was in the Italian recipes that were the center of so many of her family gatherings. When the Food Network read her comments in a magazine story, it asked if this child of the big screen would go on the small screen to teach those recipes.

After an awkward start - she takes her cooking very seriously and the producers wanted to see more of her dazzling smile - the show is a hit and in its fourth season.

De Laurentiis warns her viewers not to use too much garlic, not to overcook the pasta and not to make the sauce too thick. This, too, can be remedied by using some of the cooking liquid to thin it.

When De Laurentiis says "everyday Italian," she isn't kidding. She includes recipes you can put together "fresh" from a well-stocked pantry, including a white-bean-and-tuna salad, crostini and a dip.

And she provides the pantry list that will help you prepare her more sophisticated recipes without major grocery shopping, including a recipe for her marinara sauce, which she makes in bulk and keeps in frozen containers.

And she includes a chapter on leftovers: a salad with leftover steak, a hearty sandwich made with a leftover cutlet and a basic risotto that can be embellished with leftover grilled seafood.

My favorites are the pizza and the torte she makes in a fry pan with leftover spaghetti. They sure beat the cold spaghetti sandwiches of my youth.

But a careful reading of all of her recipes reveals that De Laurentiis has taken much of the fuss out of Italian cooking. The recipes are quick, simple, unintimidating - and they sound delicious. She makes you want to cook Italian every day.

Orecchiette With Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Raab

Serves 4 as a main course


2 bunches of broccoli raab, stalks trimmed and quartered crosswise

12 ounces of dried orecchiette pasta or other small-shaped pasta, such as farfalle or penne

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound spicy pork sausage, casings removed

3 garlic cloves, minced

pinch of dried, crushed red-pepper flakes

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli raab and cook until crisp-tender - about 1 minute. Strain the broccoli raab, reserving all the cooking liquid. Set the broccoli raab aside.

Cook the orecchiette in the same bot of boiling salt water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until the sausage is brown and juices form, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli raab and toss to coat. Add the pasta and enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Stir the parmesan cheese, salt to taste and pepper into the pasta mixture.

Transfer to pasta bowls and serve. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 673 calories; 31 grams protein; 29 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 73 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 37 milligrams cholesterol; 844 milligrams sodium

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.