Nigella Lawson is a favorite British TV cook. I have spent many a lazy weekend morning watching her discuss some delicious-looking dish in her soothing British accent. She has written eight cookbooks, one of which includes the delicious flourless chocolate cake a friend of mine makes that I always beg for at least one piece, and another of which has my favorite chocolate banana muffins.
In her new book, "Nigellissima," Lawson brings 120 easy Italian-inspired dishes with lovely color photos to display their simple, fresh and vibrant ingredients.
The book is divided into the chapters: Pasta; Meat, Fish & Fowl; Vegetables & Sides; Sweet Things and An Italian-Inspired Christmas. Eache recipe has an introduction to it with tips and discussions about the recipe with Lawson, which adds to the homey feel, making the whole book seem like a collection of recipes from a favorite aunt.
Pasta with Risotto with Peas & Pancetta is cheater risotto that uses orzo instead of the traditional arbioro rice. (Photo by Amy Phelps)
Pasta recipes include Curly-Edge Pasta with Lamb Ragu, Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Marsala and Mascarpone, Spaghettini with Lemon & Garlic Bread Crumbs, Squid Spaghetti and more.
Meat, Fish & Fowl dishes include Lamb Cutlets with Mint, Chili & Golden Potatoes, Pork Loin with Parma Ham & Oregano, Beef Pizzaiola, Shortcut Sausage Meatballs, Monkfish Wrapped in Rosemary, Lemon & Parma Ham, Chicken Under a Brick and more.
Vegetables & Sides include Green Beans with Pistachio Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes with Olives, Peas and Pancetta, Spinach Baked with Ricotta & Nutmeg, Cannellini Beans with Rosemary, Gnocchi Gratin, Tuscan Fries and more.
Sweet Things are desserts like Instant Chocolate-Orange Mousse, Sambuca Kisses, Panna Cotta Three Ways, Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce, Italian Apple Pie, Yogurt Carton Cake, Chocolate Olive Oil Cake and more.
Have an Italian-Inspired Christmas (or any holiday) with festive dishes like Prosciutto-Wrapped Grissini, Parmesan Shortbreads, Mountain Macaroni, Turkey Breast Stuffed with Italian Sausage & Marsala-Seeped Cranberries, Italian Roasted Potatoes, Cappuccino Pavlova and more.
I love risotto, but hate the amount of time that is spent just stirring it and the ease of which it can be messed up if you don't get the rice to absorb properly. Lawson's Pasta Risotto with Peas & Pancetta is cheater risotto that tastes just like the real thing, but doesn't take near the amount of time to make and doesn't end with the cook singing my risotto song ("Risotto, risotto, why won't you absorb?") and weeping from the sheer boredom. Instead, this recipe uses orzo pasta, which fills in for the arboiro rice and has the same texture, a bit of garlic and olive oil, and adds flavor with frozen peas and cubed pancetta.
This recipe was done within about 20 minutes, and made enough that the girls and I ate the whole pan for dinner.
It also cooked in one pot, which makes me even more happy, because cleanup is so easy.
This was a great, pleasing dish for a weeknight dinner and one that I will be making again.
"Nigellissima" is published by Clarkson Potter. It is $35. It will be out in stores and online Feb. 19. You can try an app right for the book on iTunes.