Giada De Laurentiis has just kicked off a brand-new book tour for her cookbook Happy Cooking, where she shares a year-round roadmap to vibrant good health and delicious eating. To celebrate the launch of Happy Cooking, the celebrity chef held a Facebook chat with Williams-Sonoma readers, who asked her about everything from kid-friendly recipes in her new cookbook to the fast food item she craves most. Keep reading for highlights from our Facebook chat, as well as a few of her favorite recipes from the book.
If you had to pick one, what’d be your favorite recipe in your new book?
Giada De Laurentiis: My favorite recipe would have to be pasta pizza. (Editor’s note: the recipe is below!)
Do you have any new ideas for a fun Thanksgiving dish that’s a little bit different?
GDL: Herb-roasted turkey breast. If you roast the breast separately [from the rest of the bird], it’ll be moist and cooked to perfection. The recipe is in my new cookbook.
Which of your dishes makes you the happiest to cook?
GDL: Noodle paella! It’s so easy, and you throw it all in one pot. You can make some Parmesan Citrus Bread to go with it, too.
Giada, does Happy Cooking have any kid-friendly recipes? If so, what’s your favorite?
GDL: Jade loves my Stuffed Chicken Parmesan (Ed. note: recipe included below). There are lots of Jade-approved recipes in the new book, too!
Do you have one traditional dish that you and your family have to make during the holidays every year?
GDL: Yes — my pumpkin pie! My family loves it. And struffoli.
What’s your favorite way to give back to yourself?
GDL: Getting a mani-pedi with Jade.
What’s your secret to staying so thin?
GDL: Little bit of everything, not a lot of anything!
Giada, what are three ingredients that are always in your refrigerator?
GDL: Chocolate, eggs, and parm.
Do you ever having the craving for fast food?
GDL: Yep…I can’t resist french fries from McDonald’s!
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked spaghetti (about ½ pound dried)
⅓ cup diced salami, prosciutto, or ham
⅓ cup frozen edamame or peas, thawed, or chopped cooked broccoli
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Crushed hot red pepper flakes (optional)
In a small bowl, beat the eggs until well combined. Stir in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and mix well.
In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, diced meat, and vegetables; using your hands generally gets the job done most efficiently. Add the egg mixture and mix again, being sure to distribute the eggs thoroughly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the pasta mixture, pressing evenly into the pan with the back of a spatula. Reduce the heat to medium and cook without stirring for 5 to 6 minutes or until the bottom of the cake is browned and crisp and releases from the pan (you may need to run a spatula or knife around the edge of the pan to nudge it free). Press down on the pasta as it cooks now and then to ensure it is making good contact with the bottom of the pan.
Cover the pan with a large plate and carefully flip it over, inverting the pasta cake onto the plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan if it looks dry, then slide the pasta cake back into the pan. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until golden.
Slide the pasta cake onto a cutting board and cut it into wedges. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan and red pepper flakes if desired.
Stuffed Chicken Parmesan
There are times when nothing but something deep-fried to a crisp golden brown will do, and for those times, this is a real people pleaser. Slice the rolls and fan them on a plate for a pretty presentation, too.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut horizontally into 2 cutlets
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus ¼ cup for garnish
24 whole fresh basil leaves
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups fine, dry bread crumbs
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought, warmed
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the chicken cutlets on a board and cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, lightly pound the cutlets to ¼ inch thick. (You can ask your butcher to split and even pound the chicken breasts for you to save time.) Remove the plastic wrap and season the cutlets evenly using ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Sprinkle each cutlet with 2 tablespoons mozzarella and 2 teaspoons Parmesan.
Top each cutlet with 3 basil leaves. Starting from one long edge, carefully roll each cutlet into a cylinder and secure with a toothpick.
Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls. Season both the flour and the bread crumbs with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper each. Working with one rolled cutlet at a time, dip the roll into the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Dip the breaded rolls back into the egg a second time and into the bread crumbs again to finish. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
Pour the oils into a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan and heat to 350°F over medium heat. Working in two batches, gently lower 4 rolls into the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Transfer the drained rolls to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for approximately 5 minutes or until they register 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Allow the rolls to rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, place ½ cup of warmed marinara sauce on each plate. Remove the toothpicks from the rolls and halve on an angle. Place 4 pieces on each plate atop the sauce. Top with more grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of chopped parsley if desired. Serve immediately.
Ed. note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.