Lidia Bastianich is no stranger to the cookbook world, having authored nine of her own to date. But people who want to learn more about authentic Italian cooking should start with her most recent book, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. The book is full of exactly that — more than 100 of Bastianich’s signature recipes that make it to the table time and time again, becoming the most beloved dishes in her repertoire.
Lidia’s Favorite Recipes is our pick for October’s Cookbook Club, so stores across the country will be holding classes to cook recipes from the book (tastings and book copies included!) We asked Bastianich all about her new book in the Q&A below — what makes a “favorite” recipe, what she’s looking forward to in the kitchen this fall, and why this is her most affordable cookbook to date.
Read on to hear what she had to say, and scroll to the bottom of this post to get involved!
What made you decide to write a cookbook of your favorite recipes?
I would say that my fans have inspired me to write this book of my favorite recipes. Over the many years that they have been following, I find that they are eager to share with me what their favorite recipes are and are always excited to hear which ones are mine. This being my ninth book, I was able to really pore over the books to find my true favorites — the ones I always find myself going back to time and time again.
How does a recipe become a favorite for you?
A recipe becomes a favorite when it is delicious, easy to make and puts a smile on the faces of the people that eat it. It also needs to make economical and nutritional sense.
Which ingredients do you use most often in the fall?
I adore mushrooms. I love foraging them and, even better, cooking with them and eating them, but fall is such a rich kitchen season, especially the leafy greens and squashes. Fall is the perfect time to make soups, and these hearty vegetables make delicious soups, but fall’s bounty is great for pasta dishes. Cauliflowers, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are delicious baked in a frittata, served alongside a protein, or just simply braised with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and some pepperoncino.
This is your most affordable cookbook to date, from the actual book to the recipes featured in the book. Why?
I felt it to be just the right time. With my previous cookbooks, the message was clearly about the place, story or topic I was writing about. What I wanted to create with this book was the one book that, if you didn’t know which of my books to choose, would make the choice for you. I wanted my recipes to be accessible to as many people as possible and to get more people excited about getting in the kitchen and cooking something good.
How do you hope people use the book? What kind of occasions are ideal for these dishes?
I think this book will be a very evergreen book in that it serves all purposes — from weeknight meals to a special holiday gathering with family and friends. It’s a great book for the first time cook who wants to get going in the kitchen, or for the pro that has spent many hours in the kitchen. The recipes range from simple to engaging, but all delicious and doable.
You wrote this cookbook with your daughter. How does collaborating with family affect your work and cooking?
This is my 5th cookbook that I’ve written with Tanya and for me, collaboration with my children in business — whether my daughter with new Lidia product lines, or cookbooks, or with my son in the wineries or restaurants — has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. I am incredibly proud of each of their solo accomplishments, but it is the greatest pleasure being able to share in all the exciting ventures we embark upon.
What is the most used cookbook in your arsenal?
I would have to say Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti Della Salda.
Love collecting cookbooks? Enjoy trying new recipes? Join us for a monthly Cookbook Club class. Led by our talented culinary experts, these exclusive cooking classes showcase recipes from a different cookbook each month.
- Each 1½ – to 2-hour class features cooking tips and techniques and a three-course tasting menu from the book’s best recipes, prepared while you watch.
- Class fee of $75 includes the cookbook with signed bookplate.
- Participants receive a 10% discount on store purchases the day of the class.
- Available monthly at select stores; class times vary by store location.
- Space is limited and reservations are required. Call a participating store to register.