Giada De Laurentiis' New Cookbook Will Give You A Serious Case Of Wanderlust

Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick.
As if we needed another reason to put sun-kissed Italy on our warm-weather bucket list, Giada De Laurentiis' newest cookbook filled with Italian food adventures is giving us a major case of menu envy. The pages of Giada's Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita are bursting with snapshots of the luminous chef in Rome making, plating, and chowing down on her favorite authentic dishes. Covering starters, lunch, in-betweens, easy weeknight feats, sides, and sweets, De Laurentiis' recipes are fresh and vibrant spring to summer dining goals.
Because we currently don't have any European vacation plans mapped out, we're featuring three of our favorite eats from the cookbook ahead to help us brush up on our at-home Italian cooking skills. Scroll on to give your favorite dishes an elevated Italian makeover — Giada-style.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick.
Positano Pizzas
Makes 6 (5 in.) Hearts

"While spending time in Positano, I was served a version of this dish as an amuse-bouche at a beachside restaurant called Le Tre Sorelle. The pizzas are so much fun to make with Jade and her friends back home, and they are also a great light lunch or snack."

Ingredients
1 (16 oz.) ball of store-bought pizza dough
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 fresh basil sprigs
All-purpose flour, for dusting
½ cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano

Instructions
1. Place the pizza dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow it to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

3. Pierce each tomato with the tip of a paring knife. On a small rimmed baking sheet, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, and basil. Toss to coat and roast for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are beginning to blister. Set aside to cool.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 425°F.

5. On a lightly floured board, use a rolling pin to roll out the pizza dough to a 1⁄4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or the tip of a sharp knife, cut out six 5-inch hearts and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the hearts for about 12 minutes, or until lightly puffed and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Split the hearts in half horizontally, as if you were making a sandwich. Divide the mozzarella and tomatoes over the bottom halves and sprinkle evenly with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Replace the tops and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle each heart with oregano.

6. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tops are golden. Serve warm, drizzled with more extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.

Serve With
Iced Tea or Flavored Seltzer

Reprinted from Giada’s Italy. Copyright © 2018 by GDL Foods Inc. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick.
Mezzi Rigatoni With Butternut Squash & Spicy Sausage
Serves 4-6

"I’ve learned that whenever I add sausage to pasta or veggies, Jade will eat them, so I do it often, and as a result I have greatly expanded the variety of vegetables in rotation at our house. Cooking the squash in the fat rendered from the sausage really deepens its flavor in a way that meat lovers will appreciate. Try it if you love squash, and if not, I still think this might change your mind about butternut squash."

Ingredients
Kosher salt
1 lb. mezzi rigatoni
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1⁄3-inch pieces
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups roughly chopped baby arugula

Instructions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until al dente. Drain well, reserving 1⁄2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into bite-size pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the diced squash to the skillet and stir to combine. Add 11⁄2 cups water and season with 1⁄4 tsp salt. Make sure all of the squash is submerged, pushing it down with the wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender and the liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the cooked pasta and 3⁄4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the skillet. Stir vigorously to combine, breaking up the squash a bit and thinning the mixture with the reserved pasta water as needed until the pasta is coated in a light and creamy sauce. Stir in the arugula and the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil. Cook just until the arugula is wilted, about 2 minutes. Top with the remaining 1⁄4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Serve With
Charred Broccoli Rabe

Reprinted from Giada’s Italy. Copyright © 2018 by GDL Foods Inc. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick.
Asparagus With Grilled Melon Salad
Serves 4

"This dish always makes me smile. First of all, the color is spectacular, and the combination of asparagus and melon reminds me of spring. If you’ve never cooked fruit on the grill, you should try it. Grilling melon intensifies its sweetness and caramelizes the sugars on the surface. I promise it will impress your friends, and everyone will want to make it. I poach the asparagus in butter so it’s super tender and decadent—a nod to Florence and Tuscany, where this is common practice."

Ingredients
1⁄2 small cantaloupe, peeled, seeds removed, and cut in 1⁄2-inch slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3⁄4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Calabrian chile paste
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 lb. medium-thick asparagus, trimmed
Ricotta salata cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat a grill over medium-high heat.

2. Drizzle the cantaloupe with the olive oil and place the slices on the grill. Grill the slices, without moving them, for about 30 seconds, or until browned on the first side. Flip the melon slices and grill on the other side for an additional 30 seconds. Remove to a cutting board to cool slightly.

3. Cut the melon slices into 1⁄2-inch pieces and place them in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, mint, 1⁄4 tsp of the salt, the chile paste, and lime juice. Mix well and set aside to let the flavors mingle.

4. Meanwhile, heat 5 tbsp of water in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the butter into 8 pieces. When bubbles just start rising to the water’s surface, begin adding the butter to the pan, 1 piece at a time, whisking constantly to form an emulsion. When all the butter is incorporated, reduce the heat to medium-low to keep the temperature just below a simmer. Add the thyme and the remaining 1⁄2 tsp salt, and swirl the pan to combine. Add the asparagus to the pan and toss gently to coat it in the butter.

5. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender all the way through when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove the asparagus to a platter and spoon the melon salad on top. Scatter a few shavings of ricotta salata over the salad, if desired.

Serve With
Fennel Gratinpizzette

Reprinted from Giada’s Italy. Copyright © 2018 by GDL Foods Inc. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick.
Giada’s Italy by Giada De Laurentiis, $27.12, available at Amazon.
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