words by Carol King
British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has turned her attention to Italian cuisine with her BBC TV show ‘Nigellissima’.
The UK’s favourite cook is attempting to demonstrate how to make traditional Italian dishes using ingredients found in any British supermarket. Lawson – known to her fans simply as ‘Nigella’ – worked in Florence before going to the University of Oxford to read Medieval and Modern Languages. She says: “When I went to live in Italy when young, I… learned about real Italian food, and by the time I’d left I had found my spiritual and gastronomic home.
“I wanted to make a series of my sort of Italian food, inspired by the ethos and the ingredients but fused with the way we live our lives, here, in the UK. I care about ease and accessibility, but I care most about passion and taste and it is these crucial Italian factors, I want to bring to the table and the television.”
In ‘Nigellissima’ Lawson creates classic dishes that are true to the spirit of Italian cooking with quick and easy recipes designed to elevate everyday eating into no-fuss feasts. The six-part series covers dishes including Italian roast chicken served with a saffron orzotto, pasta with courgettes, chocolate olive-oil cake, coffee ice cream and iced berries with limoncello white chocolate sauce. In the show she treats her friends with samples of her cooking serving up concoctions like an Italian-style supper of pork loin stuffed with Parma ham and oregano, served alongside her speedy mock mash and lazy person’s ‘vignarola’ – a recipe based on the traditional Roman spring stew of broad beans, peas and artichokes.
Lawson’s first cookery book, ‘How to Eat’, hit the shelves in 1998. She has since published several best-selling cookery books – many complementing a TV series – and has become known for her sensual descriptions of her dishes earning her the soubriquet of “the domestic goddess”. Her latest TV series coincides with the UK release of her book of Italian recipes with a British twist, ‘Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration’, which costs £26. A free taster app for the iPhone or iPad containing recipes and interviews is available at her website.
‘Nigellissima’ is broadcast on Mondays at 8.30pm on BBC 2 until 29 October. The show is repeated on BBC 1 on Saturdays at 11.30am and episodes are available on BBC iPlayer.