Why We'd Want to Be Stuck on a Deserted Island with Lidia Bastianich

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Why We'd Want to Be Stuck on a Deserted Island with Lidia Bastianich
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Why We'd Want to Be Stuck on a Deserted Island with Lidia Bastianich

If Lidia Bastianich was stuck on a deserted island, what would she bring? Read on to discover her surprising answer.

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To make her meals on the island, Lidia listed her four non-negotiables: "virgin olive oil, Grana Padano, San Marzano tomatoes and some dry pasta." But she's not settling for bland flavor. "I can hopefully find some herbs there… and then develop [them] into a sauce."

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Lidia imagines the possibilities would be pretty endless if she had those ingredients. "If I catch some fish, I can have a little fish marinara in a little tomato sauce, and so on down the line. So I think if I have these four ingredients, I will be okay for a while," she explains.

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What would Lidia do if she could only eat one dish on that island? It was hard for her to pick just one, but she decided on linguine with white clam sauce. "I could eat that for… quite a few days in a row," she reveals. She also shares that there are plenty of ways to spin the dish to keep it interesting. "You make a nice clam sauce, you get a nice piece of grilled bread, and you can smooth the clams and the sauce on that bread. And you have this juicy bruschetta with clam sauce," she says.

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Another workaround Lidia suggests is clam chowder made with tomato sauce. "I can do a lot of things with clams. So linguine with clams, a nice salad by it and I'm a-ok," she decides. "With a nice glass of Friulano."

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While there's a lot of good pasta out there, Lidia declares the pasta di Gragnano to be "the best pasta in Italy" and the one she can't live without if she were on a deserted island. It is specially made in Gragnano, in the Italian region of Campania southeast of Naples. Lidia's own brand of pasta is also made in Gragnano.

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To cook her meals on the island, Lidia lists tongs, wooden spoons and a nice blue steel knife as a few of her kitchen essentials. A good wooden cutting board is a must-have, although she muses that she "could chop down a tree and make [one herself]."

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"Good cast iron pots," she adds. "I need a good kind of dutch oven to do braises, and I need a nice big pot for soups and cooking my pasta. That's it, and I should be fine."

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Every chef worth knowing has got a surprise ingredient up her sleeve. For Lidia, peanut butter is the surprising obsession she'd take with her to that island. "I enjoy a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk," Lidia reveals. "It goes back to when I first came here at 12 years old. I had never had peanut butter. And you know, at that time the American white bread... tasted like dessert to me."

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Where does Lidia get her peanut butter fix? She reveals the chef at one of her restaurants Felidia does a wonderful gourmet take. "We were talking about my favorite flavors, and he does a foie gras with peanut butter and jelly on a brioche…and it's quite good," Lidia says.

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It's a question we ask ourselves countless times, but are never bored by the answer: "If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would you bring?" Survivalists may pack a trusty knife or matches, and gadget geeks might list their smartphone and a robust Wi-fi connection. For chef, television host and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich, who built her business specializing in Italian cuisine, it's all about olive oil.

"I certainly would have olive oil, extra virgin olive oil," Lidia told us when we asked what she would bring to a deserted island. "Then, I would have some San Marzano tomatoes... They have a long shelf life, so on an island they would be fine. And you know, dry pasta, that keeps well also, and maybe some cheese, some Grana Padano, to go along with the pasta, or to eat with those tropical foods that I find down there." Sounds like a tasty island vacation to us!

Check out the slideshow above to discover what Lidia wouldn't mind eating for the rest of her life, the type of pasta she can't live without and her kitchen essentials. Then, discover 10 facts you didn't know about the chef, check out 8 of her favorite recipes and learn how her business became a family affair.

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