My Kitchen Cookbooks: Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

Today is the start of a brand new feature on my blog called ‘My kitchen cookbooks’, that’s all about sharing with you my passion for cookbooks. I’ll select one cookbook from my continually growing collection and tell you why I love it. I regularly visit my local library, so the odd library book may appear every now and again.

The first book I’ve picked is Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson.

The strapline for this book is ‘Instant Italian inspiration’ and that really does sum up the book well. Packed full of Italian influences and flavours this is the book that really got me into cooking and helped me progress from just baking. Nigella herself states within the book that the recipes are not authentically Italian but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The recipes feature lots of my favourite Italian ingredients such as pasta, pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The first recipe I ever cooked from Nigellissima was the Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta. I halved the quantities and cooked it just for me and I now make this often if I’m eating alone. The uniqueness of this dish is that orzo pasta is substituted for risotto rice, making this far less labour intensive than a traditional risotto. The combination of the salty pancetta and sweet peas work beautifully together, this is a recipe I highly recommend.

Pasta risotto from Nigellissima

Another recipe I cook frequently from the book is Curly Edged Pasta with Lamb Ragu. I’ve cooked this dish so much that the book pages are stained from splashes of tinned tomatoes and the recipe is now committed to memory. This is a straight forward no nonsense recipe combining a meaty lamb sauce with long pasta. For me, the use of chilli flakes and red currant jelly absolutely make this dish complete. Don’t bother to make it unless you have them because it isn’t quite the same without them. The malfadine pasta used can be a bit tricky to find in the supermarkets, I do one of two things either track it down in an Italian deli or substitute it for tagliatelle or bucatini pasta instead, both work equally well.

I have quite a sweet tooth so I’m always keen to try any new cake or dessert recipes. I really enjoyed the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, which is a bit like a light and luxurious chocolate brownie. The recipe states using regular olive oil but I recall in the TV programme that accompanies the book Nigella suggests using mild and light olive oil. Guess what, you can’t taste the olive oil at all just pure yummy chocolate cake.

If you’re on the look out for a super easy but divine dessert then the Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce is amazing. Incredibly simple and quick to prepare ahead, makes this dessert a perfect after dinner treat.

Nigellissima has less recipes than Nigella’s other book but it is undoubtedly my favourite. There are still many more recipes I hope to try, so watch out for those recipe reviews on the blog.

If you have a copy of Nigellissima, I’d love to know what’s your favourite recipe and why?

Until next time.


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Nigella’s Curly Edged Pasta with Lamb Ragu

Lamb ragu

After the festivities of Christmas, we start to think about non Christmas food. I like to make Lamb ragu made using Nigella Lawson’s recipe from Nigellissima and it is definitely something I recommend you try. Nigellissima is my most used Nigella book and I talked about that when I reviewed her Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta.

The lamb ragu incorporates the flavours of mint and red currant jelly, giving this dish an English Italian vibe. There is a hint of chilli too, so it ticks lots of boxes for me when it comes to taste.

Until recently I was unable to find in my supermarket mafaldine pasta, the distinct curly edged ribbons of pasta used in this recipe. So I thought I would try my local Italian deli and of course they came up trumps. Better still when I went to pay for the packet of mafaldine, the sales assistant told me the pasta was on a 3 for 2 deal, hooray!! So expect to see a few recipes featuring mafaldine in the future.

Overall this dish works and it works very well indeed. Like most of Nigella’s recipes it is straight forward, which I think cooking should be particularly when cooking mid week meals.

If you don’t have a copy if Nigellissma, then there is a very similar recipe using pappardelle at So, if you are stuck in a mid week meal rut, have a go at making Lamb Ragu. If you are like me it will become a recipe you can add to your cooking repertoire.

Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Until next time.


Nigella’s Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta


About a year ago I was given a copy of Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson as a present, since then it has become my favourite Nigella book. The recipes are Italian inspired in that they use Italian ingredients or are based on Italian recipes.

I strongly recommend you try the following recipes:

Meringue gelato cake with chocolate sauce – a delicious and decadent dessert for adults

Chocolate olive oil cake – a moist chocolate cake for chocoholics

Curly edged pasta with lamb ragu – a comforting pasta dish with a hint of chilli

Pasta risotto with peas and pancetta – a big hug of a dinner

The latter is probably the recipe I make most frequently, so much I think that I’ve memorised it. There are 2 good things about the pasta risotto firstly it is very quick, much quicker than a traditional risotto. Secondly, I usually have all the ingredients (or that I now shop so I have all the ingredients). The pasta risotto is not made using traditional risotto rice but rice shaped pasta called orzo. Some supermarkets stock orzo alongside rice products whereas some stock it with the numerous varieties of pastas. I either buy the brands Merchant Gourmet or Cook Italian, purely because the supermarkets where I shop have yet to stock their own brand, maybe they will soon.

Do give this recipe a try, I’m sure you will enjoy it. Thank you Nigella.