The Ingenious Tip I Missed in Giada’s Everyday Italian Cookbook

published May 19, 2022
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Credit: Laurel Randolph

When I was in college, I watched a lot of Food Network. Between classes and work and everything else, the soothing sounds of Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis chopping and sautéing were just what I needed. This period of time was also the beginning of my home-cooking journey. I routinely blew through my university meal plan and had to get creative, so I started preparing dishes for myself and my friends. Food Network stars were a big inspiration, and I emulated them to no end.

As I got more and more into cooking, I began building a small library of cookbooks, and one of my first additions was Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian. Published in 2006, the chef’s first cookbook includes 125 recipes for classic Italian American dishes, largely adhering to an “everyday” ethos (minimal time and effort, whenever possible). Chapters are divided into antipasti, sauces, pasta, entrées, contorni, and dolci, with little tips and tricks peppered throughout.

During one of my many cross-country moves over the years, my copy of the bestselling cookbook got lost in transit. I recently stumbled upon a copy at a used bookstore, and have enjoyed revisiting the combination of simplicity and inventiveness. One tip that stuck out to me has been a low-key game-changer in my house, inspiring me to no end.

Credit: Laurel Randolph

My Favorite Tip from Giada’s Everyday Italian

In the Everyday Antipasti chapter, Giada includes a simple recipe for rosemary-infused olive oil. She describes the dish as a staple in her kitchen, using it for dipping bread and veggies and to make salad dressing. She even includes a recipe for popcorn featuring the herb-scented oil. While the recipe couldn’t be simpler (it only requires two ingredients), this particular tip struck me with inspiration.

Why don’t I have flavored oils on hand all of the time? They’re an easy, affordable way to add a new layer of flavor to a long list of dishes. I remedied this problem by first making Giada’s rosemary-infused oil, which is as simple as heating olive oil with fresh rosemary over low heat and letting it cool and infuse. Then store it in the fridge for up to a month. I made popcorn with it, drizzled it over roasted vegetables, and used it as a dip for bread. I was an instant fan.

This led me to look around my kitchen and ponder what else I could turn into a flavored oil. Using the same method, I made my own chili oil using red pepper flakes, then I made oil infused with thyme and bay leaf. While I was at it, I made some garlic oil, too. I went from just plain ol; olive oil in the pantry to a nice selection of infused oils in my fridge, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Credit: Laurel Randolph

Using Homemade Infused Oils

These homemade infused oils turn salad dressings into something special, add another layer of flavor to veggies, and so much more. Any time you’re using oil as a finishing agent, just ask yourself the following question: Would this dish also benefit from a little herby goodness? If the answer is yes, use your handy flavored oil.

I’m also very into popcorn and make my own on a regular basis. I followed Giada’s advice and started incorporating my new collection of oils into my favorite snack. Let me tell you — it has really upped my snacking game. It can be tricky to get toppings to adhere to fresh popcorn without adding lots of oil or butter, but I can simply cook my kernels in infused oil and it has tons of flavor. Sometimes I’ll go wild and use a combination of oils, like rosemary and garlic. It turns an everyday snack into something pretty special.

While you can buy flavored oils at fancy grocery stores, it’s much cheaper to make your own; plus, you can customize them. There are limitless flavor options and uses for infused oils, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Take a tip from Giada’s classic Everyday Italian and keep one (or two or three) on hand.