My Weeknight with Giada

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In Giada De Laurentiis‘s new cookbook Weeknights With Giada, the beautiful, smart, talented Food Network star gets real. She levels with us busy working women, wives and moms whose priority is to spend more time at the table than in the kitchen. Giada addresses day-to-day debacles over what to prepare for dinner, and hands us suggestions on an accessible platter. With top tips for keeping a stocked pantry and utilizing grocery store shortcuts (Yes, this Italian chef uses frozen vegetables and pre-made pizza dough), she shows us how to accomplish quick, healthy, homemade meals.

This Monday through Friday manual feels like having coffee with a girlfriend as Giada opens her home through pictures and stories that enhance the life of each recipe. A private peek into Giada’s upbringing, she recalls meaningful family dinners growing up, and shares how she’s made them prevalent in her life today. Along with candid snapshots of her husband Todd and their adventurous eater, 4-year-old daughter Jade, are food photos so beautiful you could practically take a bite out of the pages.

From soup to nuts, or shall I say, soups to desserts, Giada offers creative options such as meatless Mondays (Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding), evening picnics (“Mediterranean Halibut Sandwiches, bursting with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs, are so perfect for this…”) and what she refers to as ‘a change of pace’ including unique ethnic creations (Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp, Peaches and Snap Peas).

I had the pleasure of meeting Giada during her recent appearance at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, CT. She was just as likeable as you would imagine from watching her on TV. Giada humbly entered the venue to a roaring cheer from 1,000 of her biggest fans who earned coveted spots for an autograph. She graciously greeted each individual and posed for pictures with a few eager children. Her infectious smile beamed from ear to ear as she personalized each cookbook with her signature.

Naturally, I took my signed copy into Stew Leonard’s and with my nose in the pages, filled my cart with fresh produce and ingredients. I came home after a long day, and just as Giada promised, the first dinner I made was fast, simple and delicious. I chose to share this particular dish because it reminds me of Giada herself: vibrant, light, full of zest (in this case, it’s from a lemon), and makes you feel good. This perfectly filling dinner for two left us invigorated, satiated and excited to dig in to her next recipe.

Giada’s Lemony White Bean, Tuna and Arugula Salad

Ingredients:

6 packed cups (6 ounces) arugula

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and rained

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (12-ounce) can of tuna in olive oil, flaked with a fork into 1/2-inch chunks

Instructions:

In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula, beans, red onion, and capers.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, and maple syrup. Slowly whisk in the oil until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well until coated.

Add the tuna and gently toss to combine.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

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