Aug 14, 2023

Giada De Laurentiis' 14 Best Tips For Cooking Potatoes

One of the most endearing things about Giada De Laurentiis is that her recipes are almost always unfailingly comforting. Her pasta dishes, crispy lasagna and lemon chicken noodle soup are soothing, her desserts tempting, and her sides always seem like the ideal accompaniment. De Laurentiis savors her specialties, always prepares them with a smile, and is a pro at preparing so much in all sorts of different ways.

Over the years, she has also dished out endless recipes designed to cook potatoes to perfection. Clearly, she's a fan of the spud, as exemplified by her deep dives into mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or something a bit more outside the box, like potato pizza. Not only does she bring the recipes, but she also gives tips and tricks to make sure those recipes, and others like them, turn out just the way they're supposed to for those at home.

It's another example of the effectiveness with which she connects with her audience; while it may not be that hard to make so-so potatoes, she helps home cooks make really good potatoes. Below, some of Giada's best advice collected, explaining how to make the tastiest tubers.

The body seems to crave warm, fatty, highly caloric foods when it's cold out, which is why Giada's mascarpone mashed potatoes are ideal for chilly months. The potatoes provide comforting familiarity, while the mascarpone brings a deep and creamy richness further enhanced by butter and parmesan.

To prepare this decadent side dish, boil the potatoes with butter, garlic, and salt. Cook until the potatoes are tender before draining and mashing them. This is where the mascarpone comes in, along with the Parmesan, chicken broth, more butter, pepper, and more salt to taste.

Stir until smooth and sprinkle with chopped chives for a hint of color. But because the key ingredient here is, indeed, very heavy, it's also worth considering variations on this recipe by using a substitute for mascarpone. Creme fraiche, for example, is much lighter and can serve a similar function — or if looking to keep it vegan, substitute silken tofu or cashew cream, which will bring about a similarly rich creaminess.

Potato salad is a dish seemingly at every summer cook out and pot luck, but that doesn't mean it's always good. With a Giada de Laurentiis twist on potato salad, however, it's easy to buck that trend without getting too complicated.

Giada has made several important upgrades to the traditional classic, which typically involves boiled potatoes and a somewhat heavy mayo-based dressing. First of all, her dish is not meant for summertime; it is instead inspired by fall ingredients such as walnuts. Second, the potatoes are not boiled but roasted in the oven for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the rest of the salad is much fuller and greener than what celery alone can provide, with oranges, arugula, gorgonzola, and toasted walnuts making an appearance, accompanied by a lighter dressing made of orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, orange zest, seasoning, and strictly no mayo.

While this potato salad may seem lighter than the classic version, due to the orange juice dressing and addition of greens, biting into the rich gorgonzola and flavor-packed walnuts sets the record straight.

Everyone enjoys a good potato dish. Whether mashed, roasted, or boiled, potatoes are filling and eagerly take on whichever flavors and seasoning a cook hopes to impart upon them. But potatoes are almost always better when cheese is involved, so when it comes to making a cheesy potato dish, why not double down on the cheese?

That seems to be what Giada De Laurentiis was thinking when she cooked up her vast array of cheesy potato dishes. One of the best in her arsenal is the baked Parmesan mashed potatoes with bread crumbs, an ideal autumn pick-me up. This quick and easy recipe requires boiling the potatoes before mashing them and mixing them with milk, butter, mozzarella, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. The kicker comes with the addition of breadcrumbs; spread some on top, and bake this mixture at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. The end result is something that is both soft and crispy, in all the right parts and proportions.

Because potatoes can absorb pretty much any flavors thrown at them, it's especially important to pay attention to the ingredients used in potato salad dressing. Any missteps in the dressing itself will result in a potentially disastrous potato flavor.

For Giada, one of the best ways to make sure potato salad dressing works out well is to keep things light and simple by using lemon juice and only a handful of other ingredients. These include extra virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard, along with salt and pepper. The acidity of the lemon juice takes the place of the vinegar, whether it be straight-up vinegar or the vinegar contained in mayo. The simplicity and lightness of this recipe ensures the potato salad can now act as a side dish for pretty much anything.

Pair with a simple steak or salmon filet, and add some greens to the potato salad to further brighten the flavor and take care of the vegetable component of the meal.

This crispy roasted potatoes on a bed of Parmesan recipe stands out for several reasons. First of all, it went viral for months on end, after Giada posted a video of the operation on Instagram. Second, this is more of a Parmesan with potato dish than a potato with Parmesan one. The star of the show is really the crispy cheese bottom, which takes over both space on the plate and taste buds in the mouth, with the potato providing more texture than anything else.

In this recipe, she combines whisked eggs, grated parmesan, and seasoning before spreading the mixture over a baking dish and laying the potatoes on top, cut side down. After baking, the result is crispy potatoes on a bed of even crispier cheese. Because the cheesy flavor is so forward here, this dish is best served on its own, or as a snack/appetizer ahead of the main event.

On days when some extra carbs are required, it's time to pull out this De Laurentiis recipe for potato pizza, which is about as simple to make as it sounds. It's also a unique, memorable dish that will surprise others.

Once the pizza dough is prepared (which can be made with any recipe of choice, even beer-based pizza dough), roll it out and top it with thinly sliced potatoes that have been coated in olive oil, shallots, kosher salt, dried rosemary, and pepper flakes. Throw on some olives for good measure. Then bake the potato pizza for almost 20 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, shifting it from the bottom to the top of the oven about halfway through.

Once the pizza is out of the oven, but before it has cooled, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top; once again, Parmesan and potatoes make a great team.

Baking mashed potatoes in the oven is something Giada does again and again, and for good reason. While it works great for mashed potatoes and breadcrumbs, another recipe worth trying is her cheesy baked mashed potatoes with peas.

To make this recipe, start by preparing mashed potatoes normally, with butter, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Meanwhile, sautée peas in butter with salt and pepper before placing them in a well made in the center of the prepared mashed potatoes. Lastly, top the whole dish with a mixture of cheese and breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The inclusion of peas and cheese, a vegetable and a protein, makes this potato dish a one-pot meal with all the necessary elements of a complete meal — it's perfect for those days when it would be ideal to prepare one recipe and just toss it in the oven.

Gnocchi, a typical Italian dish made primarily with potatoes, flour, and eggs, is not the easiest thing to make. This is why many people prefer to buy them, and even restaurants frequently outsource them. But when tasting a fresh gnocco straight out of the pot, with butter and sage or a favorite tomato sauce, the difference between the homemade stuff and the store-bought grub is profound.

If this experience sounds unfamiliar, try Giada De Laurentiis' gnocchi recipe from scratch. After zapping the potatoes in the microwave to save time, as boiling them takes much longer, run them through a ricer and mix in flour, salt and pepper. Form a well and break an egg into it before mixing everything together, starting in the center. From here, it's time to craft the dough into little nuggets. Divide the dough into equal parts and start to roll these out into snake-like shapes, then slice them up into 1-inch pieces.

Use the back of a fork to press down on the gnocco, shaping it. Then just boil the nuggets until they rise to the surface of the water and pick them out one by one with a slotted spoon. Serve with a cheesy mixture or marinara sauce.

There is no rule that says adding chocolate to a recipe automatically makes it sweet. In fact, chocolate is widely used in savory recipes, especially across South America, and Giada De Laurentiis has found a way to do the same with her breakfast potato pancakes. In fact, most cocoa nibs aren't even sweet — they tend to be bitter. Just make sure that whichever chocolate is used in this recipe doesn't contain any milk or added sugar.

To make it, peel and grate russet potatoes before mixing them with shallots, rice flour, an egg, calabrian chili paste, and some cocoa nibs. Then fry the potato mixture in the pan for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, flattening the patties and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Feel free to serve these with any type of sauce, jam, or sour cream topping could typically accompany a latke or a rosti. The chocolate nibs are not going to get in the way. In fact, they might just add even more depth of flavor.

One of the easiest, healthiest ways to prepare potatoes is to roast them in the oven with just a tad of drizzled olive oil and some good herbs. In this department, Giada has it covered, as her recipe is simple, light, and easy to make.

Just toss some small, waxy potatoes in olive oil, sliced onions, and several pinches of herbes de provence — essentially a blend of rosemary, fennel seed, thyme, marjoram, dried savory, dried basil, dried mint, oregano, tarragon, and sometimes lavender — and place them on a baking sheet cut side down. Then bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.

This recipe is so simple that it's an ideal option for a side dish when preparing a more complicated protein, like this steak au poivre recipe that requires a number of steps, high levels of concentration, and possibly lighting brandy on fire at the opportune moment.

When making home fries, there's a choice of going with the classic, russet potato-fueled version or mixing things up with sweet potatoes; Giada encourages folks to try mixing them together.

Both she and her daughter like russets and sweet potatoes in equal measure, she has explained on her website, so the De Laurentiis household tends to treat them equally. Just coat all the potatoes in olive oil, seafood seasoning, and salt, and pour them onto a preheated baking sheet before baking them for about 25 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Placing the potatoes on a steaming hot baking sheet instead of a cold one will help promote extra crispiness and caramelization of the potatoes as they bake.

All out of sweet potatoes? Yams can easily be substituted in this recipe. They are similarly sweet and starchy in nature, which means they'll behave in just about the same way in the oven.

Those who can turn a savory dish into a dessert open up a whole new world of options for how to dispose of leftovers. This is on display in Giada De Laurentiis' recipe for Italian doughnuts known as zeppole, which calls for leftover mashed potatoes (the classic or mascarpone kind, not any of the cheesy ones), along with sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, all-purpose flour, and a series of other ingredients typically found in doughnut recipes.

To magically transform savory potatoes into sweet doughnuts, take out the mashed potatoes and whisk them with milk, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs before adding flour, baking powder, and salt. Refrigerate this mixture for at least an hour before frying scoops of the batter in hot oil and rolling them in sugar after cooking. Serve with cranberry sauce after zapping it in a food processor with nutmeg and lemon zest.

Sometimes baked potatoes taste so good that they feel like they should be baked a second time. The first bake will involve cooking whole potatoes in the oven for about an hour, until tender all the way through. The second requires them to be opened at the top and containing a filling prepared separately.

In Giada's case, this filling is made with fried bacon, panko, chives, Parmesan, sour cream, butter, heavy cream, and the mashed insides of the baked potato. This is where the second bake comes in: Pour the mashed potato and bacon mixture back into the potato skins and bake until golden brown on top, or about 10 minutes. Just beware that Giada's recipe calls for smaller potatoes, so if planning on making this recipe with a larger variety, be sure to adjust the cooking time. Serve alongside a light salad to balance out the rich creaminess.

Another great way to combine regular potatoes with sweet potatoes is in Giada De Laurentiis' sweet and salty mashed potato recipe. Although working with an extra ingredient here (two types of potatoes instead of one), the steps to this recipe are just as simple as normal mashed potatoes. Just peel and dice both types of potatoes, then boil and drain them. Then pass them through a ricer and add butter, cream, vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and salt, and top with crispy fried prosciutto.

The key to success in this recipe is to select the right kind of sweet potatoes. The Jewel sweet potato, for instance, is not among the sweetest, so if the dish is aiming to be more savory, this ingredient is the best bet. But if looking for something sweeter, opt for the Beauregard, which also yields a nice, creamy texture when mashed, due to its naturally high levels of moisture.