YouTube sensation Laura Vitale believes that simple and seasonal is the way to go when preparing meals, and that philosophy is at the center of her aptly titled new Cooking Channel series “Simply Laura.”
“I’m a big believer in simple cooking,” Vitale tells Zap2it, whose series premieres Saturday, Sept. 27. “I am not trained; I’ve never been to culinary school. I just have a deep passion for being in the kitchen. And I think a lot of people get a little scared to be in the kitchen because they think, ‘I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to make.’
“And the thing I tell everyone is to just go to your local grocery store. Whatever is in season is going to be 10 times cheaper than whatever is not, so start from there. And get in the kitchen and cook it as soon as possible because when food is in season, it naturally is going taste 10 times better, so you don’t have to do a lot to it. So I really want to focus on that because I think that’s something people don’t really think about that often.”
For example, says Vitale, if you’re going to make a zucchini dish, do it in the spring, not the fall.
“If you’re cooking zucchini in April and May, you’ll find that at 99 cents a pound (it) will feed a family of four. If you’re buying those in October, then it’s going to cost you $4.99. So I really want to highlight how cooking with ingredients that are in season is not only best for you as far as taste buds (are concerned) but it’s also great for your wallet.
“And cooking things simply is key for me for anything. I don’t want to cover up food with tons of different sauces and marinades when in fact if it’s cooked right it tastes incredible. I really want people to see that it doesn’t take a list of 15 different ingredients to make one really easy but delicious dish.”
But keeping things simple doesn’t mean taking the easy way out and using store-bought pie crusts and sauces.
“I try to make everything from scratch,” says Vitale, who was born in Italy but raised in New Jersey by parents who owned and operated two Italian restaurants. “I try to make as much as I can from scratch by using the best ingredients I can get my hands on. Partly it’s because I think I’m a control freak and I like to control everything that goes into my food.
“But I love making my own everything,” she continues. “I love making biscuits from scratch. I love making pie crusts from scratch. I love using the best butter I can for my pie crusts so that buttery, flaky goodness comes through. And I want people to see that it’s just the easiest thing in the world, it really is, and there’s not 100 ingredients that you can’t even pronounce that go in it.”