Nigella Lawson: Italian at Heart

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.