Friday, May 30, 2008

Beautiful Giada Does Lots Of Beautiful Vegetables

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

Giada's Vegetarian Favorites
Italian Lentil Salad
Grilled Tofu with Asiago and Walnut Pesto
Goat Cheese and Herb Stuffed Radicchio Leaves
Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

A new Everyday Italian is about to start. Why did they wait so long to air one? (I DID miss a few Saturday's.) Will Giada be pregnant…very pregnant or is this an episode they’ve been holding for many months?

Giada is strolling through a forest…no, a park…no, a vegetable garden. Not terribly pregnant, if at all. Wait, in her intro, she does looks a bit more… zoftig…but those could just be the camera angles her show is famous for. YOU be the judge. Whatever the case, she looks beautiful.

She starts with a rigatoni dish. Her shirt(?) does look a bit bigger than usual, but who knows?

Olive oil goes into a big sauté pan. (Remember, if you get married, that will be my wedding gift to you. It’s absolutely indispensable.) She chops 2 shallots and a garlic clove and leaves them to sweat.

(Giada, hon, to help with pregnancy digestion issues, I really recommend getting rid of the green stem in the center of the garlic. Even when cooking it and not pregnant, I always do.)

She throws 2 handfuls(!) of salt in pot of boiling water. The rigatoni goes in.

Giada slices mushrooms for the sauce. She’s using shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms “for body” and crimini, which she says have good flavor and a firm texture. She adds them to the shallots with a bit more olive oil.

She adds ½ cup white wine (way too soon. I think). NOW she’s adding vegetable stock. How about browning the mushrooms first? Giada does say to turn up the heat. She wants to cook the mushrooms fairly quickly, so they don’t sit in the stock too long. But she definitely didn’t cook them enough BEFORE she added the stock.

She chops chives, as she tells us how much she likes their color and fresh oniony flavor. Giada adds salt and pepper to the mushrooms and then checks the pasta. It’s ready. She quickly adds 1 cup of mascarpone cheese to the mushroom mixture and scoops in the pasta with some of the water clinging to it. She mixes it all together and dishes it out into a lovely green pasta dish.

That reminds me, did you know that if you’re interested in eating less (who isn’t), serve your food (preferably blue) on blue dishes, wearing something blue, in a room painted blue…

Giada grates some Parmesan over the pasta for its “nutty bite” and finishes off the dish with some chives. She serves herself, admiring the rigatoni. Good job.

The shot of the lentil salad looks great. Giada seasons the water for the lentils. Wait a sec…Some folks believe that you shouldn’t add salt to lentils before they’re cooked, as with other beans, because the skins will toughen. Others say that it doesn’t matter as much. I add salt at the end.

Giada adds French green lentils to boiling water and begins to chop the remaining vegetables. She peels and halves a cucumber lengthwise and slices it into little pieces. Into a bowl it goes. She cuts up and adds red pepper and scallions. She zests 2 lemons over and adds green and red grapes that she has halved. She chops toasted hazelnuts. Giada toasts them at 350°F for 10 minutes ‘to intensify the flavor”. (I use a microwave.)

Giada checks the lentils. She likes them al dente, soft on the inside with a little bit of a bite. She drains them on a wide platter to cool them faster.

She moves on to a vinaigrette. She rolls a previously zested lemon and squeezes it through her hands into a bowl. (I never do that...too many little cuts.) She adds salt and pepper and whisks in 1/3 cup of fruity extra virgin olive oil. (I would use a blender with a dash of mustard perhaps to hold the emulsion.) She tosses all the vegetables in with the lentils and pours over the vinaigrette. Beautiful. She tastes it and loves it.

The next dish is grilled tofu, which can be a problem if it’s not nice and crispy. Giada is making one of my favorite pesto variations to go along with it. She places parsley, a few sage leaves, one garlic clove (with the stem firmly in place), ¼ cup chopped walnuts - untoasted, I would have - and ½ cup asiago cheese (which I hate every time I use it) in a food processor. OOH, Giada’s using grapeseed oil. Yum! Have you ever used it? It tastes warm and rich, almost like a nut oil, without a specific nut flavor. Try it.

The ingredients get puréed in the processor. The pesto goes into a bowl.

Giada slices a block of tofu in half diagonally and then again on the diagonal to make 4 pieces. Then she cuts each triangle into 3 pieces.

She oils the grill and puts on the tofu. Giada salts and peppers each slice. After 2 minutes, she turns them and cooks them on the other side. No s and p on the second side?

Giada plates them. A bit of pesto goes over each one. She tastes it.

Hmm, I’m not sure she liked it. There was a slight hesitation after it hit her taste buds…

Weird commercial with Ellie um-ing and ah-ing. I don’t buy it.

Next is “a five star salad” to make at home. Giada heats one cup of olive oil to 300° and then cools it for 5 minutes. (Then why heat it in the first place?)

She chops 1/4 cup each of parsley and basil. She adds 1 teaspoon of dried thyme (not fresh?) and salt and pepper. Giada chops THREE garlic cloves with the big fat green stem still in there (just waiting to give her indigestion). She slices 3 scallions and mixes everything together with the oil.

Aaah, the reason you heat it up is to bring out the flavors in the herbs and garlic.

Giada spoons a bit of oil in the bottom of a baking dish. She lays ½ inch goat cheese slices on top. She adds more flavored oil on top.

She covers the dish and chills it in the fridge for 4 hours. Wow! I would eat this, but I might not wait 4 hours for it.

Giada serves the goat cheese in pretty leaves of radicchio. She places one slice of goat cheese in a pretty red leaf. I don’t even like radicchio that much, but this is gorgeous, actually really beautiful.

No one uses color like Giada, on herself AND her food. This last dish was simple, stunning and delicious. Giada, I know you’re taking care of Jade, but don’t forget about us. Come back soon.


Emiline said...

I love the pictures.
I don't know if she's pregnant - hard to say. She kind of looks like it.
Maybe that's why she didn't like the tofu.

I know you said before that you didn't like Asiago. You said something about it being sour. I like Asiago, but now I'm starting to doubt myself. Is using Parmigiano or Romano better?

Sue said...

Thanks Em,
I think she must be.

I think people use Asiago when they want a sharper flavor than Parmesan. I just find it unpleasant and I always regret using it. So, for me, I WOULD use Parmigiano or Romano, but you might like Asiago, just don't serve it to me.

Ann said...

So funny, I love watching Giada and when my husband is around, she's the only food person I can watch. Hmmmmm... wonder why?