Giada De Laurentiis' Favorite Pantry Staples

Giada De Laurentiis is known for embracing her Italian roots through one of the country's most notable attributes: food. Her passion for the cuisine of her heritage has driven her success thus far, from being a Food Network Star judge and Today correspondent, to a New York Times best-selling author and founder of her own restaurant. These achievements are accompanied by a reputation for providing easy-to-make, classic recipes that pay homage to the food she grew up on.

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As a celebrity chef whose brand revolves around teaching a consistent rotation of simple recipes, it can only follow that her pantry is stocked with staple ingredients she can use in a variety of dishes. De Laurentiis has not been shy in pointing people toward her favorite groceries, encouraging them to try things from Calabrian chili paste to anchovy oil. Her recommendations are a mix of items you likely already use regularly to products you may have to step out of your comfort zone for. But each one deserves an everlasting spot in your kitchen, according to the cook herself.

Dried pasta

When you think of authentic Italian cooking, you probably picture a never-ending variety of pasta dishes. After all, the country is home to the famous fettuccine alfredo, carbonara, lasagna, pasta bolognese, and countless other favorites. That means, of course, dried pasta is essential in our Italian-rooted celebrity chef's pantry. Giada De Laurentiis likes to have both long kinds of pasta, such as spaghetti and linguine, as well as shorter types like penne. Among her favorites is orecchiette. These small, ear-shaped noodles are the base of several of her recipes, from orecchiette with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe to orecchiette with mini chicken meatballs.

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You can use your stocked-up pasta for more than just the usual recipes, too. Of course, you can use your stash to execute something like your classic cheesy baked ziti, but the possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to taking fun shapes and testing what sauces, Italian or not, transform it. Take spaghetti, for example. You can turn it into an upgraded comfort meal by trying out a cheesy chicken parmesan spaghetti bake.

Rice

Up next is our second favorite carb: rice. And what Italian chef hasn't taken a crack at risotto? Giada De Laurentiis certainly has. Her several variations of it are proof, including her artichoke risotto and mushroom risotto with peas. She reaches for carnaroli and arborio rice for dishes like these. That's because arborio rice (the most common type of rice used for risotto) cooks more quickly and is inexpensive. These high-starch, short grains are different from the lower-starch, long-grained carnaroli rice, which is more flavorful and has a firmer texture. So next time you're attempting a rice-based dish, consider which of these Italian gems better suits the recipe.

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Surprisingly enough, you can look to these types of rice for more than just making a mean risotto. De Laurentiis has shown that they can be used for face masks, too, by mixing finely ground carnaroli rice with olive oil. This trick allows you to achieve a glowy look to your skin by using all clean ingredients. The texture of the rice flour is great for gentle exfoliation without damaging the skin, according to her blog.

Extra virgin olive oil

Now to highlight the second component of Giada De Laurentiis' simple face mask: extra virgin olive oil. It's no secret that olive oil is a must-have in many cultures around the world. And Italy is the third country on the list of its biggest consumers, so it's no surprise to learn that De Laurentiis told Bon Appetit that she eats it "with almost everything." That claim is easy to believe when she sells multiple options of the condiment on her website.

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But her favorite choice has to be Lucini. In an Instagram video highlighting her go-to Italian store finds, she describes it as being light and easy to cook with. The ultimate guide to buying olive oil will tell you plenty of other factors to look for when selecting an oil, all the way from its packaging and price to its level of refinement and country of origin. Do right by De Laurentiis and keep these in mind to select your favorite olive oil, as it can have a big flavor impact on your dish.

Olives

You can't have olive oil without olives. Nor can you have Giada De Laurentiis without accepting her love of specifically Castelvetrano olives. According to Gustiamo, these are some of Italy's most popular exports in the olive market. There are several varieties of Castelvetrano olives, but they all share a mild, smooth flavor and robust texture. They're firm with crisp skin and taste less salty than other olive types.

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To enjoy them on their own and have them as the star of your meal, De Laurentiis offers a warm citrus-marinated olive recipe. All it takes is tossing your olives in some tangerine pieces and lemon zest, as well as olive oil and a generous assortment of herbs to inject some extra flavor into every bite. You can also add olives to other dishes, like a green bean and tomato panzanella salad, to bring in an even more vibrant color and a new taste.

Vinegars

Giada De Laurentiis has vinegar for every color of the Italian flag, it seems: red, white, and green. Well, maybe not green. But she does advise you have red and white wine vinegars, and balsamic vinegar stocked in your pantry at all times.

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Though all vinegars are a product of fermentation, there are a few differences between each type. Red wine vinegar, which is fermented from red wine, has a stronger, more intense flavor than its white counterpart, which is fermented from white wine and offers a sweeter, milder taste. Balsamic vinegar is made from freshly pressed grape juice, also known as grape must. It has a thicker consistency than red or white vinegar and carries a sweet flavor.

What these vinegars have in common is their ability to lightly enhance whatever dishes they touch. Red and white wine vinegars are excellent for salads, dressings, stews, and rubs. Balsamic vinegar similarly works well for salads. It can also be used as a glaze atop chicken, fish, and tomatoes or as part of a vinaigrette. De Laurentiis loves balsamic vinegar and its various uses so much that she recommends a balsamic vinegar tasting at your next dinner party.

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Calabrian chili paste

Giada De Laurentiis isn't Giada De Laurentiis without her beloved Calabrian chili paste. It's her "favorite way to add a little heat," according to her blog. This underrated vibrant Italian condiment is made by mixing crushed Calabrian chili peppers (surprise, surprise) with oil, basil, salt, and white wine vinegar. It gives off a smoky, spicy element that pairs well with almost anything.

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The chef said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that she uses the ingredient in just about any recipe she can. One formula she particularly loves to use it in is her Calabrian chili pasta. This quick dish has a nice balance between sweet and spicy components by making Calabrian chili paste its main ingredient while also playing around with cherry tomatoes, lemon, and cheese. In addition to pasta, this chili paste can be used in the same way one might use any hot sauce: with chicken, tacos, fish, pizza, or rice.

Dried herbs

Herbs are essential in just about everyone's kitchen. They're indispensable to any cook, especially those looking to enhance Italian dishes the Giada De Laurentiis way. The chef always has the bare minimum of thyme, oregano, rosemary, and herbs de Provence in her pantry. Herbs de Provence is an exceptionally great one to keep around, as it's an all-purpose combination of some of the previously mentioned herbs in addition to bay leaves, basil, tarragon, savory, and marjoram.

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De Laurentiis has shared a handful of recipes that thrive off pairing these key ingredients with a good base. For example, her herb salad and crusty garlic and herb bread are quick and easy recipes that require very little preparation and cooking time. Her citrus herb turkey takes more time and effort but yields a generous 10 servings and lots of protein. And, of course, for each of these recipes, the dried herbs are what take them to the next level and elicit a huge amount of flavor.

Flour

Petra has Giada De Laurentiis' vote when it comes to flour. Created at Molino Quaglia mill, the brand utilizes a stone-mill grinding method. This process rids the flours of any contamination and allows them to be consistently clean and tasty. Molino Quaglia offers several types of natural products that fall within this positive criteria. The one you decide to keep in your pantry ultimately depends on what you're making.

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De Laurentiis' favorite flour to bake with is Petra 9, as she said on X. Petra 9 is a wholemeal soft wheat flour that contains less starch and more vitamins, fiber, and oils from the wheat germ. It's best for making bread, pastries, and other items with both soft crumbs and crunchy crusts. Petra 3 is De Laurentiis' go-to for making pizza dough. Keep in tune with Italian-influenced recipes and try using it when making an Italian sausage and sweet potato pizza. Finally, De Laurentiis also stays stocked up on "00" pasta flour. You guessed it! She uses it when making pasta from scratch. She says that this silky flour makes a "smooth, supple dough that can be kneaded and shaped effortlessly."

Canned tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes. Tomayto, tomahto. Both are equally nutritious and canned retain a generous amount of vitamins, according to Food Network. The canned version actually provides even more lycopene, a natural plant compound that offers several notable advantages, including cancer prevention, bone strength maintenance, and a reduced risk of strokes, according to Very Well Health.

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And along with multiple health benefits comes a reliably good and ever-fresh taste. Giada De Laurentiis gave a shout-out in an Instagram post to Mutti's canned tomatoes for their yummy flavor and versatility, saying it "makes a very sweet, delicious tomato sauce" and can be put on just about anything. Test the chef's claim by adding canned tomatoes to a wide spread of dishes, whether in a cheesy caprese chicken bake or a smoky mustardy kielbasa pasta. Spoiler alert: De Laurentiis is right; canned tomatoes can be successfully incorporated into a mix of meals the same way as fresh ones.

Canned beans

As we've learned with tinned tomatoes, canned goods aren't off-limits to Giada De Laurentiis; she even sneaks canned beans into her brownies to give them a richer flavor and higher nutritional value. She likes to add black beans, in particular, to the dessert. This type is great for regulating blood sugar levels, keeping you satiated for longer, reducing cholesterol, and adding some excellent health benefits to your post-meal treat in an unexpected way.

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Laurentiis also likes to use canned cannellini beans, such as in her weekly go-to white bean dip. Cannellini beans are also known as white kidney beans, informing people of their light color and rounded, curved shape. They have a robust texture and thicker skin, with a nutty, umami flavor. Among the white bean family, they're a great choice for soups and salads. Tossing Cannellini beans into your crispy ginger-glazed tofu bowl, for instance, can enhance the recipe's earthy flavor.

Jam

Not everything in Giada De Laurentiis' pantry is savory. She stocks up on the sweet stuff, too, starting with jam. She uploaded a short YouTube video just to highlight her favorite one: white fig jam from Piedmont. It's "thick" and "luscious," as indicated in the video's description and evident in the chunks she scooped out of the jar and onto her toast.

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Aside from being spread on bread, jams are great for offsetting the salty components on a charcuterie board, like deli cuts and crackers. You can even put them into dishes like oatmeal and pancakes, which act almost like blank canvases, to add a little extra sweetness and color. From strawberry and plum to apricot and lemon, there is an array of jams and jellies you can choose from for both taste and aesthetic purposes. Dab some jam on top of your mixed berry scones to complement an already vibrant breakfast.

Anchovy oil

Anchovies are a transformative, flavor-packed superfood that can add a delightful umami element to your meal. It's a mainstay in Italian cooking for this reason, whether that be in pasta or a dip. Plus, they're loaded with health benefits. They contain an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and calcium. But even with these advantages, anchovies are not for everyone. The fishy, potent taste and smell can be off-putting for some people.

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Giada De Laurentiis understands this common sentiment and instead suggests using anchovy oil if anchovy paste or the fish itself is too strong for you. She explains in an Instagram post that a little of this condiment goes a long way, and it can easily be incorporated into pasta sauces, dressings, stews, and even drizzled on bread. Take the time to explore other creative ways to use your anchovy oil, whether that's whipping it into butter or enriching your hollandaise sauce. You might be surprised at how the savory liquid pleasantly alters your food.

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