Being a big Nigella fan I was very happy when I had my copy of Nigellissima Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson Chatto & Windus 2012 in my hands.
It is a relatively slim book for Nigella, but as she says in the introduction there are lots of her Italian recipes in her other books, and this book is full of new recipes. Chapters are: *Introduction* Pasta* Flesh, Fish & Fowl* Vegetables & Sides* Sweet Things* An Italian Inspired Christmas* Notes*. The notes one at the end gives make ahead and leftovers advice for some of the recipes, where this is appropriate.
The photography is stunning and Petrina Tinslay needs a mention here as she manages that hard to capture thing where the food photography is both something that you would like to cook and eat; but somehow art at the same time (David Loftus is another star at this). The recipes are easy to follow and well laid out, all preceded by chatty introductions from Nigella.
You can feel Nigella’s love for Italy in her words, and it is a book that inspires you to the cooker. The only thing I don’t like about this book is the weird cover. When I think of Italian food nowadays I imagine a cornucopia of good things or a fantastic beautiful and great tasting ingredient. This cover doesn’t sit well with that image for me, but hey ho. There are a good number of pasta dishes, but there is a lot more besides. I particularly like the Italian-Inspired Christmas chapter, which is full of good things.
It is Italian inspired though, so don’t be expecting a book of truly authentic Italian Mama’s recipes. I’m not as hung up on authenticity as some are. My base point is I like to know what is actually authentic about cuisines that are not my own; but I tend to then alter them to what I like and my own family will eat anyway, - is that not just what Nigella has done here? If the results are as good as the prawn pasta rose and nutella cheesecake below – I can cope with a bit of inauthenticity!
So how about a little taster of the recipes? Tortelloni Minestrone, Pasta Risotto with Peas & Pancetta, Farro Risotto with Mushrooms, Italian Roast Chicken with Peppers and Olives, Beef Pizzaioli, Tagliata for Two, Iced Berries with Limoncello White Chocolate Sauce, Romanesco with Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon and Peccorino, Chocolate Nougat Cookies, Chocolate Salame, Cappuccino Pavlova and an Italian Christmas Pudding Cake.
My friend Anna G has also had great success with the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, so it is now also on my long list of to-makes as well. Here are the dishes I’ve cooked so far:
Silence reigned when I put this one out, and I’m not surprised it was a perfect panna cotta. Rich, dreamy, and vanilla scented. Nigella has three panna cottas in the book - this one, a Nutella one and a coffee one – we will try them all eventually.
The strawberries here have a teensy bit of balsamic vinegar added. I bought a high end bottle of balsamic last time I was in Valvona and Carolla in Edinburgh, and it added a pleasant depth to the berries. You do need a good vinegar though, because I have tried this berry / balsamic thing with cheaper vinegar and it just doesn’t do.
This is meatloaf by another name. It was ok, needed a bit of help I thought, maybe some crispy bacon through the base and olives on top. This is the only recipe here I wouldn’t try again.
A cheeky little tiramisu, made in moments. I halved the recipe to make just two. Although I do think hubby felt a bit robbed that there wasn’t a big dish to have seconds from!
Unusual this one, but we all liked it, fastest potato gratin ever.
Sicilian Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic and Almonds
I halved the anchovies here, and I really liked this alternative pesto. I’ll make it again just for me, I found it’s sweet – sour pull good. My little one took such an aversion to the telephone cord shaped pasta that she had to be bribed with pudding to eat it (well she couldn’t have just Nutella Cheesecake for tea!). I’ve heard before of children who will eat say spaghetti but not other shapes of pasta as it doesn’t taste the same, but so far I’d managed not to experience that first hand. I get off very lightly really!
Next Up: Under the Walnut Tree