Nigella Lawson: Italian at Heart

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Nigella Lawson: Italian at Heart
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Nigella Lawson: Italian at Heart

Nigella Lawson shared her tips, tricks and cooking philosophies with us. Check them out in this slideshow!

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Use Vermouth

"I’m a great believer in vermouth because it costs the same [amount] as wine, and you [can] keep it in a cupboard with a screw top," Lawson explains. "[With] wine, if you open it, you have to drink it."

While she recommends cooking with vermouth, she is not a big drinker (unless her three co-mentors on The Taste can convince her to join them for a whiskey sour). "I’m an eater," she says. "If I drank as much as I ate, I wouldn’t be able to fit through this door."

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Weigh Time vs. Money

"There are really only two ingredients in cooking you have to consider and keep in balance: time and money," she told Kitchen Daily. "If you have no money you have to spend a lot of time, and if you’ve got money you don’t need to spend much time because expensive ingredients cook [quickly]." For example, good fish and filets of meat cook very quickly while a inexpensive baked potato takes a longer time to cook.

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Embrace Shortcuts

"Every time I read a recipe, I think, 'how can that be simpler,'" Lawson says. "So I cook things that I want to cook in the way I want to cook them." While some scoff at the idea of using prepared foods such as garlic-infused olive oil, frozen, chopped shallots or condensed milk, Lawson embraces these innovations because they make cooking that little bit easier.

"What is the point of trying to make any of us feel bad for trying to find ways to cook that make our lives easier?" she asks. "It’s not so terrible."

Lawson recommends staying away from processed foods most of the time, but finds that there is a time and a place for everything. Her favorite processed food splurge? Potato chips.

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Let Loose When Cooking

"People think cooking is complicated because up until now, cooking on T.V. and in books has been dominated by the chef," says Lawson. "It gives a false idea [which] can be inspired, but it can also be a bit inhibiting or intimidating."

When cooking, there is no need to make it into a "Virtuoso performance." Rather than show off great skill, Lawson recommends focusing your attention on making food taste great. Do not feel confined to the ingredients of a recipe. Free yourself up to make substitutions. Try adding in a bit of lemon juice here and there, and feel free to take your time.

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Do Away with Appetizers

"[When entertaining], I cook pretty simple foods," says Lawson. "I have a no appetizers rule. I think it's completely mad to give yourself the work of clearing a table non-stop during a meal."

Instead, Lawson offers nuts or cheese with drinks, and asks guests to participate in setting up for the evening. "I don’t set the table," she explains. "I put my cutlery in canisters, and I say, 'you are in charge of forks,' 'you are in charge of knives' and 'you are handing out the potatoes.' It's much more like a family meal."

Image Credit: Noam Galai

We loved chatting with Lawson. Now check out some of our favorite recipes from her latest cookbook, Nigellissima!

Image Credit: Noam Galai

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs

Meatballs in only minutes? Sounds like the perfect recipe.

Get the Recipe: Shortcut Sausage Meatballs

Chicken Under a Brick

Ever tried cooking your food with bricks? Now is a better time than ever.

Get the Recipe: Chicken Under a Brick

Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil, My Way

This quick, zesty recipe is perfect for a side, a quick lunch or an appetizer!

Get the Recipe: Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil, My Way

Quick Calabrian Lasagna

An easy, quick and delicious lasagna you won't want to miss.

Get the Recipe: Quick Calabrian Lasagna


Nigella Lawson discusses her new Italian cookbook, Nigellissima, and her hit television series, The Taste, with Kitchen Daily.

Italy holds a very special place in Nigella Lawson's heart. She not only adores the food, but her time spent in Italy as a teenager changed her life. "I'd been a very reserved person in England, [but] something about Italy made me feel like I'd become myself," explains Lawson. "I didn't feel shy, and I didn't feel reserved. There is something about it that suddenly freed me from the hang-ups I had."

Lawson highlights her love for Italy in Nigellissima, a cookbook dedicated to the food of the country and variations of it. The beautiful images that accompany the book's recipes could fool anyone into thinking the recipes were highly complex and beyond their skill level. Instead, in typical Lawson fashion, most of the recipes are shockingly doable, quick and simple. "I wanted to focus a bit on the faster recipes because that's what life needs," she explains.

Even when her Nigellissima recipes aren't "fast," they allow you to step away from the kitchen and move on with your life while food cooks. "I love the Italian roast chicken because sometimes what I really want is something that cooks by itself," Lawson says. "If I can leave some vegetables with my chicken and walk away, and I've got a whole meal in one tin in an hour of time, that makes my life easier."

A home cook herself, Lawson is insistent on making cooking inclusive, simple and realistic for busy people. "I suppose I feel sort of evangelical about this," she explains. "I want people to realize how easy cooking is. It can be incredibly complicated but it doesn't have to be." Italian is the perfect cuisine to prove her point. It is ideal for home cooking because it does not require many ingredients and is not technique-driven, like French cooking.

Even on ABC's The Taste, where Lawson joins Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey to mentor and judge a group of chefs and home cooks, she strives to teach and keep cooking inclusive. "I wanted people to learn and to taste," she says. "I saw my job as encouraging rather than instructing."

Check out the slideshow above for some of Lawson's best tricks, tips and cooking philosophies and for our favorite recipes from Nigellissima.

Also, for some of Lawson's top beauty secrets, check out Nigella Lawson on Cooking, Beauty, and Eating More Fat from our friends at StyleList.

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