"I always say four o' clock rolls around and everybody starts to panic. What's for dinner? What am I going to put on the table?" Giada De Laurentiis exclaims to Healthy Hollywood. We caught up with the Food Network star at the book party for her new cookbook, "Weeknights with Giada." Inspired by her almost 4-year-old daughter, Jade, Giada put together recipes for quick and simple family dinners. "It's become a little more challenging so I found some fun, creative ways to do that [home cook meals] and I thought, you know, I'd share it with all the other moms out there."
It's the perfect go-to-guide for busy parents scrambling to get dinner on the table. Giada says most of the recipes can be made in less than 30 minutes and use accessible ingredients. "I think people are really afraid right now, of using frozen vegetables or canned food. It makes them think that somehow they are not delivering on the promise of a great meal. But, it's not true. There are some wonderful things out there and you just have to doctor them up and you're ready to go. You can take shortcuts. It's okay to take shortcuts. We all do it," reveals Giada.
The recipes are all taste-tested and approved by Giada's daughter and husband, Todd. One of their family favorites is pasta made with frozen veggies. Yup, this Emmy-award winning cook uses frozen vegetables - don't tell! "I make this wagon wheel pasta with snap peas and peas. The snap peas are frozen, the edamame are frozen, the regular peas are frozen and the pasta is in the pantry. It's olive oil and some pancetta (Italian bacon), which I always have in the fridge. You whip it all together, you don't have to chop anything, just dump and stir. As long as you know the time it takes to cook pasta, you've got a great meal."
Giada shares her Wagon Wheel pasta recipe with Healthy Hollywood.
Wagon Wheel Pasta with Pancetta & Peas: (4 to 6 servings)
1 pound wagon wheel-shaped pasta (rotelle)
.25 cup, plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, finely diced (about 2.25 cups)
2 large or 4 small shallots, chopped
.5 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
1.5 cups shelled edamame beans
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
.25 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
.25 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the shallots to the pan and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth and scrape up the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the snap peas and simmer for 2 minutes, until tender. Add the pasta, cooked pancetta, edamame, petite peas, Parmesan cheese, the remaining .25 cup olive oil, the salt, pepper, and mint. Toss until coated, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to loosen the sauce. Transfer to a bowl and serve.
For more of Giada's recipes, check out www.giadadelaurentiis.com.
-- Terri MacLeod
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