Italian cuisine is near and dear to many of our hearts, and so I think we can all nod in understanding when Nigella Lawson says, "It was when I was sixteen or seventeen that I decided to be Italian." Nigellissima is an ode to her younger self and to the food she fell in love with way before Nigella Lawson became a household name. These are simple, nourishing Italian dishes that are as satisfying to make as they are to eat.
• Who wrote it: Nigella Lawson
• Who published it: Clarkson Potter
• Number of recipes: About 120
• Recipes for right now: Curly-Edged Pasta with Lamb Ragu, Quick Calabrian Lasagna, Sardinian Couscous with Clams, Lamb Cutlets with Mint, Chili & Golden Potatoes, Venetian Stew (pictured), Instant Orange-Chocolate Mousse (pictured), Italian Breakfast Banana Bread
• Other highlights: Every page of this book is infused with the kind of warm charm and quiet confidence we've come to know and love from Nigella Lawson. I love how each major step in a recipe is highlighted in bold, making it easy to skim a recipe for the key points while in the middle of cooking. The headnotes — besides being good couch-reading material — provide lots of helpful tips and serving ideas directed specifically at home cooks like us.
Fans of Nigella will not be disappointed in this book. However, I do need to admit that I felt a little let down by the recipes. Don't get me wrong — they all look and sound absolutely amazing. It's just that I feel like I've seen them all before in one form or another. Nothing truly stood out as particularly new or unique. I'd say that if you already have a few Italian cookbooks on your shelf, this one is worth a skim or a borrow from the library, but you probably already have most of these kinds of recipes covered.
• Who would enjoy this book? Fans of Nigella Lawson, people looking for good entry into Italian cuisine.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson
• Visit the author's website: Nigella Lawson
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(Images: Emma Christensen)