Nigella Flashback

7/08/2012 04:05:00 PM

I was recently going through a cooking slump, getting to dinner time every night with absolutely no idea what to cook or eat.  I know, me!  Even with 395 Nigella recipes under my belt, I was still struggling to come up with dinner ideas.  I couldn't believe it either.  I wanted to shake things up a bit, and for inspiration, I re-read all my Nigella books, as well as looking through my old Sarah Discovers How to Eat blog - the One & TwoLow FatFast Food, and Feeding Babies and Small Children chapters are particularly rich resources for quick and easy meals.  Over the past few weeks, I've made a concerted effort to cook heaps of Nigella recipes, and it's been such fun getting back into them!

Another reason I wanted to make some as-yet-uncooked Nigella recipes is that her new book, Nigellissima, comes out in September and I'll be inundated with a zillion new recipes to try.  I'm so super excited!  Nigella's passion for Italian food has always been evident through her previous books, and I've always had great success with Nigella's pasta recipes, so I'm sure the new book will be fantastic! (There's a great interview with Nigella on YouTube, entirely in Italian, discussing wine. Enjoy!)

Picture credit: Amazon UK

For general interest, and because I love making lists, here are some of my favourite Nigella pastas that I've made and blogged, and can highly recommend: carbonarapenne alla vodkaroast chicken pastapappardelle with courgettes and sultanasspaghettini con cacio e pepepasta with leftover pan juiceslinguine alle vongolespaghetti with bacon, garlic and parsley; and linguine with chilli, crab and watercress.

For today, let's have a look at some of the quick and easy Nigella recipes I've been making lately, which have helped me get back into the swing of day-to-day cooking. Yay! (N.B. I've stated the source book of each recipe below, and for the ones that are available on Nigella's website, I've linked the recipe in the caption of each photo).

I made this gorgeous tagliata for a quick, light dinner.
Tagliata on rocket

Nigella has actual recipes for tagliata in How to Eat and Feast (also in her Christmas TV special), but as I mentioned when I made her Cambodian Hot and Sour Beef Salad (How to Eat), Nigella has many recipes that follow the "rare-slices-of-meat-strewn-on-salad" theme, all of which inspired this easy weeknight dinner.  To make it, I simply grilled a piece of fillet steak until just rare.  While it was resting, I dressed a packet of rocket leaves with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, and added in some toasted pine nuts and parmesan shavings.  On top of this salad I piled the thinly sliced steak.  It was so simple, and I couldn't believe how delicious it was.  Cheaper and healthier than takeaway too!

The turkey meatballs in tomato sauce with rocket and lemon couscous were slightly more work than the tagliata, but no less tasty.  After re-reading Kitchen, it struck me that the What's For Tea? chapter is a great source for midweek-friendly recipes!
Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Kitchen)

I loved the bouncy meatballs (I used chicken mince and they were still good), and the rich tomato sauce made it a comforting, but not stodgy, meal for a cold night.  I'm glad I made the suggested accompaniment of lemony rocket couscous - I love couscous but hadn't made it in ages, and just needed to be reminded of how easy it can be!
Rocket and Lemon Couscous (Kitchen)

I made the Indian rubbed lamb chops (also from Kitchen) to go with the leftover couscous.  They were incredibly simple - just rub a few different spices onto lamb chops, and quickly grill or fry them.  I loved the complex flavours, and at less than $10, it was a very cheap meal. Love!
Indian-rubbed Lamb Chops with Couscous (Kitchen)

One day when I couldn't be bothered even leaving the house (we've all been there), I made the tuna and beans from the Hey Presto chapter of Nigella Express, which uses basic ingredients I already had - you know, tuna, beans, onion, oil, lemon juice and some herbs.  It had lovely strong flavours, and was a gratifyingly filling and healthy lunch.
Tuna and Beans (Nigella Express)

Nigella suggests these Indian Roast Potatoes (from Kitchen) as an accompaniment for roast chicken, but I switched it up a bit and had it as a meal in its entirety.
Indian roast potatoes (Kitchen)

I used the same spices as the original recipe, but replaced some of the potatoes with sweet potato and cauliflower and served it with a fried egg. (Very Asian of me!)  As with the Indian lamb chops, the simple addition of a few different spices brings so much interest and deliciousness to what would otherwise be a very plain dish.  I love the sunny yellow colour from the tumeric too.  (I must remember to raid my spice rack when trying to come up with a fast meal!)

Looking similar but tasting very different was the double potato and haloumi bake, from Nigella Bites.
Double potato and haloumi bake (Nigella Bites)
In this dish, the sweet root vegetables are given a lovely contrast by the salty haloumi, rather than the earthy spices of the Indian roast potatoes.  It's carb-o-licious!

I've blogged the Crustless Pizza before, but wanted to re-share it with you as it came to the rescue on a Friday evening when I was feeling particularly apathetic and had almost nothing in the kitchen.  It's just Yorkshire pudding batter topped with cheese and anything else you want. Dough for the win!
Crustless Pizza (Kitchen)

Unlike the previous time I made the crustless pizza, this time I topped it with a mixture of ham and jarred pesto.  Very low rent, but highly fabulous.

To finish up the jar of pesto, I made the green eggs and ham from Nigella Express.
Green Eggs and Ham (Nigella Express)
These are basically crepes with the addition of pesto to the batter, served with slices of ham. The taste of the pesto really comes through strongly, so I think it's important to use one that you like. Unlike all the other recipes in this post, I didn't particularly like these, and probably wouldn't make them again - I'd prefer a simple ham and cheese toastie spread with pesto rather than going to the trouble of making the pancakes.

Of course I had to make a recipe from How to Eat - the totally lovely and warming golden root vegetable couscous, with harissa.  (I'm glad to report it was just as fabulous as the last time I made this gorgeous vegetarian stew). I tend to think of this stew as a lazy weekend lunch, and was surprised that it only took an hour from start to finish, including making the harissa!
I can't justify spending $12 on a jar of expensive harissa from designer supermarkets, when it's so cheap to make at home. It tastes amazing, so punchy with garlic, vinegar, chilli and spices, and I love the intense murky colour of the homemade version - no fake colourings or bright red pastes here!
Golden root vegetable couscous
This was perfect for a cold night. It's such a win to find a winter-appropriate recipe that is filling and comforting, but still contains lots of vegetables and isn't loaded with fat. I think you could healthify this further by using brown rice or protein-rich quinoa as the carb, but I just love the soft wheatiness of the couscous.

These days I don't tend to make desserts, but having bought some less-than-inspiring strawberries at the supermarket, I felt that the strawberry and almond crumble from Kitchen would be a fitting place for them. 
Strawberry and Almond Crumble (Kitchen)

I haven't made a crumble in ages, and I really enjoyed this one! I wouldn't have thought to put strawberries in a crumble, but they worked really well here.  The bubbling strawberries smelled so good in the oven, and I loved the crunch from the almonds and demerara sugar (Other great Nigella crumbles include her basic apple crumble, rhubarb crumble, and her apple and walnut crumble, all of which I've previously made as part of my How to Eat project).

So delicious with lots of pouring cream!
Strawberry and Almond Crumble (Kitchen)
I made the full amount of crumble as per the recipe, but only baked enough for a single portion.  The remaining crumble was stashed in the freezer for future crumble emergencies!

This last one is by no means suitable for a mid-week dinner, but it was so good that I wanted to sneak it in: the Pecan Plus Pie from Nigella Christmas. I made it for that Christmas-in-June party for which I also made the Eccles Cakes.  I'll blog it in more detail shortly, but for now you can just admire the gorgeous, sugary, nuttiness of it. Magnificent!
Pecan Pie (Nigella Christmas)

And now I'm just counting down the days until Nigellissima!

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  1. So much great food! I'd say you're well and truly out of your cooking rut now :)

    I can't wait for her new cookbook either.

  2. i read up on lots of recipes but like you, i still struggle with ideas...

  3. Wow you've made so manuy Nigella recipes! :D And she looks great on the cover!

  4. I didn't know there was a new Nigella coming out - cue instant excitement!

  5. I tell you, your first 4 scentences could sum me up recently too. Thank goodness it's is not just me :)

    Al your dishes look great, I've bought the nuts for the pecan plus pie twice now, and used them for other things - seeing your photo its time is coming ;) xx

  6. Sophie - Yup, I sure am! I even made another Nigella recipe tonight: her rigatoni al forno from Feast. So delicious!

    Michelle - I think everyone gets into little ruts even if they read a lot, sometimes you just need to give yourself a mental push! For me, even just knowing that I wanted to write a post full of Nigella recipes was motivation enough!

    Lorraine - Hah, I sure have! Isn't Nigella gorgeous? I can't believe she just seems to get more beautiful as she gets older.

    Cara - You heard it here first! Lol. I can't wait for the new book!

    Kelly-Jane - Hehe I think it's a very common experience! Thanks so much for your comment. :) You simply MUST make the pecan pie - it is gorgeous!!

    xox Sarah

  7. Anonymous8:22 PM

    OMG, you have to be Nigella's biggest fan and probably the person who has made the most of her recipes!! Amazing!

    That crustless pizza sounds soooo good! Just the thought of Yorkshire pudding with a yummy filling makes me hungry all over again.

  8. myfoodtrail - Aww, thanks April! I *love* Yorkshire pudding. (Just quietly, I think it's even better than roast beef, hehe!)

    xox Sarah

  9. sheesh everything looks pretty awesome. first time at your blog, and really really loving it. what I love most about nigella isn't any recipe per se, but her attitude, her healthy appetite and love for food!

  10. Shu Han - Thank-you so much for your lovely comments! I totally agree with you about Nigella, hehe :)



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