Although primarily an expert in Italian food, Giada also throws other foods into the mix at times. Her newest cookbook, Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner delivers exactly what it promises. Recipes with ten ingredients or less that busy families can cook during the week. As in her television show, Giada focuses on Italian, but includes a section titled "Change of Pace" where she features Asian, Spanish, and Greek cuisine, as well.
While included are photographs of Giada's food and family, the meat of this cookbook are the recipes themselves. This is not an ode to a television star, but a real cookbook that real people can use. Weighing in at 240 pages, there is a recipe for everyone in this cookbook. Giada divides the recipes in Weeknights with Giada into some basic sections (i.e., "Veggies & Sides" and "Dessert") but also some more innovative, personalized sections such as the aforementioned "Change of Pace" or "Breakfast for Dinner."
Several of the recipes from Weeknights with Giada will make it onto my table this summer, as they simply sound like warm-weather treats. I can't wait to make a version of Giada's Caramelized Onion, Chicken, and Grapefruit Salad, which sounds big on flavor without including soft cheeses. Finds like that are a plus for me as a pregnant woman struggling to enjoy salads without feta, bleu cheese, or some other forbidden-during-pregnancy cheeses. (The delicious-sounding Fig and Brie Panini will just have to wait until after October!) The Apricot Oat Bars (using both apricot preserves and dried apricots for ease and simplicity) sound like perfect summer-month treats, or even breakfast.
However, my instinct is to turn immediately in Weeknights with Giada to the "Pasta and Grains" section. Not only because Giada's Italian expertise makes this a no-brainer, but because I am a pasta lover. I could eat it almost every night (whole wheat, of course), but I get tired of the same old ingredients and preparations. Giada includes several easy, new takes on pasta that I'll be trying. Penne in Almond Sauce, for instance, which includes shredded rotisserie chicken, frozen peas, lemon, and basil, sounds delicious. So does the Sweet Corn and Basil Lasagna, the recipe for which you can find on Amazon's page for Weeknights with Giada.
The recipe I will probably make first, however, is one of the most simple. It just speaks to me for some reason:
Wagon Wheel Pasta with Pancetta and Peas,
|Photo from Weeknights with Giada|
1 lb wagon-wheel shaped pasta
1/4 c plus 1 T olive oil
8 oz pancetta (for which I will probably substitute bacon, as pancetta isn't readily available where I live)
2 large or 4 small shallots, chopped
1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 c sugar snap peas, cut into 1-in pieces
1 1/2 c shelled edamame beans
1 c frozen peas, thawed
1 c grated Parmesan
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh mint leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to 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 brown 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 1/4 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.
This is a post part of the Beth Fish Reads blog series Weekend Cooking, which is open to anyone with a food-related post, including: book and movie reviews, photography, recipes, and other items. To browse this week's posts from all over the web, click on over to her post from today, about the book Farmers' Markets of the Heartland.