Anna Boiardi’s family may have started Chef Boyardee—a supermarket staple that’s not exactly synonymous with healthy eating—but you won’t find the culinarian heating up a can of Beefaroni every night. Instead, the native Italian, who lives in New York, is all about healthy, home-cooked meals that honor her deeper roots.
“Most Italian food is really simple. It’s just about really fresh ingredients, local, in season. That’s how Italians have been eating for centuries,” she says.
Boiardi is quickly becoming a household name in her own right, writing a cookbook (Delicious Memories), appearing on E!’s Playing with Fire, and hosting “Cucina Academy”—a dinner-party-meets-cooking-class-combo in her loft. Because, even the offspring of maybe the great microwaveable-meal purveyor believes that everyone should know how to cook fresh food. We peeked in her fridge for what that looks like at her place.
So you have a lot of fruit, especially berries. Yes, I have tons of fruit! But my son won’t eat it unless I make him a smoothie. I have tried every which way, and I think it’s just a texture thing. So I’ll juice an apple, and put in half a banana, berries, and a packet of acai. I want him to get fruit, but I never give him just juice.
You also have a lot of different milks. Who drinks what? My husband will only drink skim, and my son drinks the two percent. I was making pancakes, so I was using buttermilk.
What’s in the containers on the second shelf? One has roasted peppers, which I always keep on hand for my husband. We’ll put them on top of an omelet, or in a sandwich. Another has turkey meatballs—my son will eat them, so I load them with spinach. I’m all about hiding healthy food in other foods! The third has diced cucumbers. I always try to keep things ready for a salad, so that if we’re hungry after work, it’s easy to get one started while I find something else to make.
Do you cook every night? I don’t want to say I cook seven days a week, but I probably cook five. And I keep meals frozen and portioned out for my son, like a vegetable or chicken soup, so he’s getting home-cooked meals every day. I travel for work, so I know he’s taken care of. He also has issues with vegetables, but if they’re in the soup, he’ll eat them! I give him tons and tons, every vegetable I can think of.
Do you have a favorite, go-to meal? I love to make a basic pomodoro sauce with penne, and then I take fresh mozzarella and dice it. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. In the summer, I also love pesto with fresh basil—I’ll make tons and freeze it. Months later, you can still have those summer flavors.
What do you think people do wrong when they’re just learning to cook? Cooking is so much about confidence. In my classes, I try to pick things people will be able to make easily, because it’ll give them the confidence to go on to the next thing and grow their skill set from there. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.annaboiardi.com