13 Cooking Tips From Giada De Laurentiis You Need To Know

Giada De Laurentiis is one celebrity chef who practically has the word "food" written in her DNA. The Italian American television personality was born into a Hollywood family with strong ties to the kitchen. Her grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, grew up in Naples, Italy, where he spent his childhood selling the pasta made in his family's pasta factory. After immigrating to the United States, he continued the family tradition by opening a series of small Italian eateries. Apparently, it was in this environment that a young Giada began a life-long love affair with cooking. 

In an interview with Divine Living, De Laurentiis opened up about how her family's food businesses drew her in from a young age. "I was 12 at the time, and I would go [to these family eateries] after school and just be amazed by what I saw and how people reacted to the food," she shared. Sure enough, the young aspiring cook eventually went off to Paris, where she enrolled in culinary school. She later trained under Wolfgang Puck at his flagship restaurant, Spago. These days, you can catch De Laurentiis sharing Italian cooking tips with thousands via the Food Network. Over the course of her decades-long study of food, De Laurentiis developed a deep sense of culinary knowledge. From meal planning to pan recommendations to pasta-making tricks, Giada de Laurentiis has awesome cooking tips that might just revolutionize the way you do things in the kitchen.

1. Plan your meals ahead of time

These days, it's easy for home cooks to get wrapped up in all of the stress of daily life. Thanks to busy work schedules, family responsibilities, and chores that never seem to get done, it can be difficult to find joy in cooking. Luckily, Giada de Laurentiis has a solution to help home cooks navigate stressful moments. According to the celebrity chef, one of the best things you can do during a busy time of the year is plan your meals ahead.

In an interview with Today, De Laurentiis opened up about her strategy for cooking during the holidays. As she told the outlet, "My tip for taking the stress out of holiday cooking would be plan, plan, plan." For the TV personality, this means preparing your meals well before you plan on serving them. "Plan your menu, prep in advance, and make as much as you can two days in advance," she advised.

If you aren't sure exactly what you should make prior to a larger dinner party, remember that there are plenty of delicious comfort foods that keep well in the freezer. Chili, lasagna, pasta sauces, and most soups are easy to make and then freeze until the big day.

2. Make the foods that make you feel good

If you are hoping to start preparing healthier dinners, Giada De Laurentiis might have some cooking tips for you. The celebrity chef recommends that you take some time to consider how certain ingredients make your body feel — and then prepare the ones that make you feel your best. As De Laurentiis revealed in an interview with La Cucina Italiana, "eating well is not about eliminating foods. It's about noting how they affect you and eating less of those that challenge your health." 

Because each person is different, De Laurentiis doesn't suggest demonizing any specific food. Instead, she asks home cooks to get in tune with their bodies so they can go on to enjoy the foods that don't affect them negatively. Per the TV personality, eating well "doesn't mean you can't eat pasta or dairy." On the contrary, "it's all about taking it slow and really listening to your body to discover what is best for you."

For De Laurentiis, healthy eating means staying true to her "Italian roots" and cooking with "fresh ingredients." As she told La Cucina Italiana, some of her favorite treats include sea bass, roasted vegetables, and gluten-free banana bread.

3. Shop for fresh and in-season ingredients

Like many celebrity chefs, Giada de Laurentiis believes that your food is only as good as the ingredients that you cook with. As a result, she recommends buying the best-quality foods that you have available to you. Chatting with La Cucina Italiana, De Laurentiis pointed out some of the best places to go find fresh and healthy produce. "I try to shop at farmers' markets when I can or if I'm at a larger market, I purchase organic foods," the chef shared. 

Just because an ingredient is fresh, however, doesn't mean that you are purchasing it at the right moment. According to De Laurentiis, it's important to remember whether or not a certain element is actually in-season. Pears and parsnips, for example, tend to be best in winter, while raspberries and eggplant are most delicious during the summertime. De Laurentiis told La Cucina Italiana, "I try to cook with ingredients that are in season and also cook with less processed foods."

Interestingly, there's an explanation for De Laurentiis' advice. Out-of-season produce often gets picked before it ever reaches ripeness — and is then transported across the globe. This process can prevent foods from developing their full flavors and nutrients, leaving home cooks with bland plates and less nutritious meals. 

4. Give canned fish a try

When it comes to typical Italian pantry items, canned fish can get a little bit of a bad rap. According to one survey by YouGov, anchovies are America's absolute least favorite pizza topping. And, a piece in NPR, went so far as to claim that, when prepared incorrectly, these salty fish, "can make the heartiest eater recoil from their punch." Luckily, Giada De Laurentiis is here to defend delicious canned fish items. The celebrity chef has even hinted that turning your nose up at these ingredients would be a huge mistake. 

The reason that De Laurentiis loves canned fish is that this ingredient can make your food taste better. As the TV personality told us in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, "canned fish elevates so many dishes like pasta and chicken." And, if anchovies, specifically, aren't your thing, De Laurentiis recommends another salty favorite: "I'm obsessed with the new Armatore bluefin tuna on Giadzy."

To put the celebrity chef's advice to the test, sprinkle some of that Armatore bluefin tuna over this recipe for linguine with lemony chicken. Alternatively, whip up some penne with black olives and serve it with fine, canned ventresca. If neither of these pasta plates appeals to you, worry not — a high-quality can of anchovies can add rich umami flavors to your pizza. 

5. Add leftovers to your frittatas

If you are interested in brunching the Giada De Laurentiis way, don't fret — the Italian American chef knows how to keep her weekend mornings simple. To start your Sunday off right, you can make a frittata using basic ingredients like eggs and leftovers. In her interview with Tasting Table, De Laurentiis explained that the best way to add flavor to your frittata is to use stragglers from previous meals: "I usually add whatever little bits of leftovers I have in my fridge." For the celebrity chef, this can mean adding in anything from cheese to veggies to cook cooked meats. "Some of my favorites are grated parmesan, prosciutto or bacon bits, smoked mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives," De Laurentiis divulged.

Interestingly, the TV personality's frittata-related advice spans beyond her recommendation of using leftovers. She also suggests adding one key ingredient to help your creation achieve the perfect consistency. "I always add a little milk to the eggs to help with the fluffy texture," De Laurentiis said. 

To put the celebrity chef's advice to the test, start out by making this basic vegetable and cheese frittata recipe. Throw in any extra veggies that you have lingering in your fridge, along with leftover chopped meat, and plenty of cheese. The recipe should go pretty quickly, with little to no prep time. 

6. Always keep a few basic items in your fridge

There's nothing quite as frustrating as opening your fridge on a hungry stomach ... only to realize that you don't have any ingredients to cook with. The good news is that Giada De Laurentiis has an easy solution to this common problem. In her cookbook "Giada's Italy," the celebrity chef explained that she always keeps a few key items in her kitchen — and even opened up about which ones are her favorites. Apparently, the Italian-American chef keeps olive oil, vinegar, assorted cheeses, anchovies, olives, and speck on hand. She also likes to keep crostinis within reach, as they make an awesome snack and pair well with plenty of other ingredients. 

To take a page out of De Laurentiis' book, buy a few boxes of crostinis to keep in your pantry. Then, grab these delightful little snacks on a busy weeknight and top them with some olive oil, cheese, and veggies for a quick and delicious meal. These mini crostinis, for example, are quick and easy to make since you can assemble them using fresh produce and a little bit of goat cheese. 

7. It's okay to use store-bought pizza dough

Many celebrity chefs insist on using homemade everything, but Giada De Laurentiis isn't afraid to stand out from their ranks. On the contrary, the "Food Network" star seems to understand that not everybody has infinite time to spend in the kitchen, nor can they simply whip up a batch of homemade dough whenever they want to make a pizza. In "Giada's Italy," the television personality seemed cognizant of this issue, sharing several pizza recipes, none of which called for homemade dough. Instead, De Laurentiis' cookbook advised home cooks to rely on store-bought stuff for their pizza-making needs.

While it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why De Laurentiis made this choice, you only have to look to her food philosophy for a potential explanation. As she revealed in an interview with Food & Wine, the celebrity chef wants to help everyday people access delicious homemade food. And, for De Laurentiis, part of that is ensuring that her recipes are actually easy to make. "My goal is to make Italian food clean and accessible and beautiful and tasty, with simple ingredients that people can find at a local grocery store because people don't want to go to a gourmet shop in search of items that will sit in their pantry for years after they use just a teaspoon or pinch of them," she told the outlet.

8. Upgrade store-bought pasta sauce

Giada De Laurentiis understands that pizza dough isn't the only ingredient that home cooks like to pick up at the supermarket. The star of "Giada at Home" also knows that most folks don't have enough free time to whip up a round of homemade pasta sauce on any given weekday. As De Laurentiis wrote in her blog, Giadzy, "Let's face it — in a perfect world we'd make homemade pomodoro every night, but in reality, we reach for the jar of store-bought marinara quite often."

However, just because you purchase your pasta sauce, doesn't mean that you can't add your own unique twist. According to De Laurentiis, one of the best things you can do with store-bought sauce is dress it up with some typical Italian ingredients. As the celebrity chef explained on her blog, upgrading your marinara sauce can be as simple as adding a dash of garlic and olive oil and heating it up on the stove. Alternatively, you can throw your pasta sauce into a pot along with a parmesan rind and let the two items simmer together. The result will add a touch of homemade cooking to your store-bought eats. 

9. Cook your turkey breast on its own

Making the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is no walk in the park. Luckily, Giada De Laurentiis has a strategy for achieving the perfect Turkey Day treat. According to the celebrity chef, the best thing you can do is skip that social media moment of pulling the whole bird out of the oven. Instead, she recommends dividing the turkey into a few different pieces, which you can then cook separately. As De Laurentiis explained in an interview with William Sonoma, "If you roast the breast separately, it'll be moist and cooked to perfection." The celebrity chef also suggested seasoning the breast with plenty of herbs.

If you want to try De Laurentiis' trick for a scrumptious Thanksgiving bird, try using this recipe for a roasted turkey breast with pearl onions and sage. Here, you'll spread plenty of melted butter over your meat before adding salt and red pepper and letting it all roast together in the oven. The result should be juicy and succulent. Folks who don't have an oven, however, need not worry. You can also cook turkey breast in a slow cooker along with cloves, honey, and Madeira wine.

10. Repurpose leftover risotto in Arancini di Riso

Just because you have a leftover meal in your fridge, doesn't mean that you have to eat the same dinner twice — and Giada De Laurentiis knows it. The TV personality recommends using your leftover risotto to make a totally different recipe: Aranci de riso. In a cooking demonstration on "The Ellen Show" (via TheEllenShow on YouTube), De Laurentiis explained this typical, Italian cooking trick: "With the leftover risotto, we make little balls." The chef showed the audience how to coat these risotto balls in a layer of flour and then dunked them in almond milk. She eventually breaded and fried them so that they turned into the perfect weeknight meal.

The best part of this fun aranci de riso idea is that you can add plenty of other ingredients to your rice balls. Prior to beginning the breading and frying, you can mix other types of vegetables, like mushrooms, peas, or squash, into your risotto. That way, you can customize the recipe to your favorite flavors, all while finding a unique way to repurpose your leftover veggies. 

11. Make one thing at a time

Cooking can be a joyful and even relaxing process for some people. However, not everyone feels that way. On "The Ellen Show", actress Nicole Kidman, told Giada De Laurentiis that she often feels stressed in the kitchen. "Isn't it meant to be relaxing, sort of? That's what my problem is when I cook ... I get anxious and anxiety," the actress confessed. Apparently, the reason behind Kidman's sense of culinary malaise had to do with "timing" the different parts of a meal. "I don't know how to time everything," Kidman explained.

Luckily, De Laurentiis had an easy way to resolve Kidman's issue. According to the celebrity chef, the best thing that the actress could do was slow down her cooking process. "Don't make so many things," De Laurentiis said. "Just make one thing at a time." 

While this advice might seem simple, there might just be a method to De Laurentiis' madness. If you take the time to focus on perfecting a single item, you might find that cooking isn't so overwhelming. Plus, if you take the time to bake this banana bread, you could very well leave the kitchen less stressed than before. After all, one study by the University of Toronto found that baking can help relieve stress and bring out your creative side (via Teeo). 

12. Add plenty of salt to your pasta water

When it comes to boiling pasta, not everybody always remembers to add salt to the water. According to Giada De Laurentiis, this is definitely an error. In a video for her blog, Giadzy (via Giadzy by Giada De Laurentiis on YouTube), De Laurentiis revealed that she adds a significant amount of salt to her pasta water. "Do salt your pasta," the celebrity chef advised, before going on to emphasize the criticalness of this step. Apparently, adding salt to your pot of water is meant to do much more than just make the water boil faster. The way that De Laurentiis sees things, this ingredient is all about adding flavor. As she explained in her video, salting the pasta water "is the first time that you add flavor to the pasta."

To try out De Laurentiis's advice, you can start out by making this pasta with classic Alfredo sauce. Once you get ready to start heating up the pasta water, be sure to add a generous helping of salt to the mix. De Laurentiis suggests adding about three tablespoons of the seasoning for every six cups of water in your pot. Add salt accordingly and get ready to enjoy a round of celebrity-chef-inspired pasta. And don't forget to save a bit of that starchy pasta water to add an extra splash of flavor and thickness to your sauce!

13. Add lots of seasoning to your steak when cooking it in cast iron

Pasta isn't the only meal that requires plenty of salt, according to Giada De Laurentiis. The cooking expert explained that steaks cooked in cast iron pans also need a good amount of seasoning. "Remember, more salt is better because ... a nice salty crust is fantastic," De Laurentiis shared (via thegiadzy on Instagram). To help that delicious outer crust of meat to form properly, the celebrity chef suggested using just two ingredients to season your steak: Salt and olive oil. However, De Laurentiis didn't just recommend any old type of salt. She recommended Kosher salt, as it's easier to measure out with your hands. 

If you'd like to try making a steak De Laurentiis' way, try using this pan-seared steak recipe. However, instead of using butter to sear your steak, consider giving olive oil a go. Remember to follow De Laurentiis' recommendations and salt both sides of your steak. This will help ensure that a beautiful crust will form evenly across your entire steak.

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