The cooking show host launches her new line of Target cookware
and food products this fall. See the full line (we've got our eye on the
cast iron panini grill).
Giada De Laurentiis may be culinary television's fastest-rising
star, but her cooking chops run deep, all the way back to her
grandfather's pasta factory in Naples.
And for De Laurentiis, mother to 2-year-old Jade and host of the
Food Network's Giada at Home, food and family are as
natural a pair as salt and pepper. Or, as she tells me, parmesan
and garlic, the flavor combo behind one of the vinaigrettes in her
new line of cookware and food products for
Target, which she was in Chicago promoting on Friday in Tribune
Win a signed copy
of Giada at Home!
Family is at the heart of her new collection and her most recent
book, Giada at Home, and was on her mind when we sat down
Kids love pizza and pasta but there's a lot more to Italian
food, right? Tell me a little about your approach to Italian
cooking and why it works for kids.
Italian food is delicious, and most kids like cheese and meat
and pasta, and there are about a million different dishes you can
make with those three things. But the meal is about more than the
food. I really think sitting down at least two or three times a
week as a family is a tradition every family should start. We live
such busy lives and so do our kids. They're on the go for 10 or 12
hours a day. There has to be a reconnection time, and that's the
Italian tradition I love.
Your latest book seems to feed off that, with pictures of
you cooking with Jade and your husband, Todd, and, of course, the
title, Giada at Home.
It's definitely a book about family. It was really fun to do and
I hope it's a message that sticks with people. Families are so busy
that it's hard to find time to be together, but it's so important.
These are the people that keep us going, without them life would be
boring and sad. It's so important to take a moment to be together,
and if that moment involves great food, even better.
And when it comes to the recipes, I wanted to take my Italian
heritage but give it my own spin and bring in our California
lifestyle. So you'll see lots of lemon and fresh herbs for flavor,
and a whole chapter for brunch, which I love.
Kids can be picky eaters. Is it hard as a chef to come up
with family-friendly recipes and still feel like you're bringing
your A-game to the kitchen?
When was a child, my parents cooked a meal for dinner we'd all
sit down and enjoy the meal together. My sister was the picky
eater, and the rule was that if she didn't want to eat that dinner,
that was fine, but there wasn't another meal coming. I think
sometimes moms drive themselves crazy trying to make too many meals
to make everybody happy.
Bring kids into the process. Let them help you decide what to
make, or involve them in the shopping at the grocery store. We
do it on Sundays with Jade. We'll pick apples. She points at the
ones she likes and we'll count them, I'll ask her what color they
are. Then when we cook, she remembers. She says, "Mommy, that's the
broccoli we bought at the grocery store." That way they're kind of
invested in the meal, and they learn about what they're putting in
Wait, you shop with a 2-year-old? Voluntarily?
I do. And I only bribe her a little. I tell her she can
pick one thing she wants for the trip. If we go by the bakery
section first, I'm in trouble, because she loves the cookies with
the sprinkles on them. But she also loves little champagne grapes
and cherries. And sometimes what she decides she wants is
Is Jade old enough to eat what you make? Your dishes aren't
exactly rice puffs and pureed squash.
She's been old enough to eat what I make since the day she
started eating. You have to go in thinking kids eat the same things
we eat. If you do that, it becomes a lot easier. Kids love pasta
they love chicken and meat. they may not like vegetables, but there
are always fun creative ways to sneak them in.
Well, most kids like meatballs, so I make very small meatballs
and i grate vegetables or put them in a food processor and then add
them into the meatball. The key is to make them really small so
kids can just pop them in their mouths.
What's Jade's favorite thing that you make?
Lamb chops. It's kind of strange. My husband is a Midwesterner,
so he loves his red meat, and I think she came out craving meat.
She also loves pastina, which is a short cut pasta with peas and
But, really, I find I can get her to eat anything as long as it
has parmesan cheese on it. Parmesan cheese is my savior. I get a
big block of it and we shave it. Jade loves to stick her fingers in
it and she'll take a sprinkle for her food, and then a sprinkle for
As you know with a 2-year-old, parenting doesn't leave a lot
of time for gourmet meals. What are some ways you've found cut down
on prep time without sacrificing flavor or healthiness?
Stocking the pantry is the best way to do that. Once a month, go
and stock it up with ingredients you know kids will like. Pasta and
sauce is such an easy meal, but be creative. Try whole wheat pasta
or quinoa pasta, not just semolina flour pasta, and get as many
different shapes as you can. At Target, we have three jarred tomato
sauces (tomato basil, creamy tomato and marinara), and they go
great with pasta or with chicken fingers, to dip in instead of
ketchup. The same with vinaigrettes. Try them for dipping or for
marinating chicken, or toss over vegetables. My favorite is the
parmesan garlic vinaigrette. There's the parmesan again - it's like
my little magic trick.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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