Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cookbook Review: Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson

Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson
It's no surprise with recent food trends and mindfulness fads that Nigella Lawson's latest book, Simply Nigella focuses on Feel Good Food. It seems we are constantly being reminded these days to enjoy our lives, take time out and get back to basics. This book is the latest to jump on that bandwagon, however I'm happy to report that this is not a pretentious book touting a long list of extreme life changes and healthy living demands… As one might expect, even with a fair few gluten-free recipes and the odd usage of obscure health food aisle ingredients, this book is still what can only be described as very Nigella.

Braised Peas
I expected Simply Nigella to be all about something I'm admittedly sick of hearing about… Healthy food. I was pleasantly surprised that Nigella has not taken that route, but instead focused on the food she's been eating after some changes in her life that make her feel good, nourished and happy. Isn't that what food is all about anyway? It's fuel for our bodies, it's a treat to our senses, it's something we can make with our hands and feel accomplished about and it's something we share with people in our lives, hopefully those we love. We mark special occasions, holidays and celebrations with food, from a wedding meal to Christmas dinner to the pizza we order when our favorite team is playing on TV. The recipes in Simply Nigella are a bit more, well - simple - but these aren't your buck standard tasteless, cardboard health food book recipes. They're good and like in her other books, Nigella's enthusiasm for these dishes literally jumps right off the page at you. It's infectious and exciting, especially for anyone who loves to cook.

Caramelized Garlic Hummus
Readers can expect many of the things we all love Nigella for like convenient recipes, indulgences and interesting flavors. Something as simple as hummus gets an instant upgrade with the addition of caramelized garlic and she seems to find a way to create gluten-free deserts that don't taste as though something is missing… They taste incredible! There's a bit of Eastern inspiration in the book from her recent travels to Thailand, so if you love Thai food you'll be in for a treat.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

One recipe in particular stands out in this book for me and that's the Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I've made these cookies multiple times already and it's nearly impossible to keep from eating them all in one sitting… They're amazing! 

Pasta Snails With Garlic Butter (made with shells)
I also love the variety in this book… It's not extreme in the least. You won't find that every recipe is sugar-free, dairy-free or gluten-free. There are pasta recipes, desserts, meat dishes… Everything you'd normally expect from a Nigella Lawson book is here. What you will find is that some dishes do cater to particular dietary requirements such as a gluten-free or vegetarian diet, so if you have this book on the shelf, then you'll always have some recipes at the ready when your friends who require them come over for dinner.

Make-ahead Mash
I very much enjoyed reading Simply Nigella. It's not my favorite book by Lawson as I think my heart will always belong to Kitchen and Nigellissima in equal measures, however it's inspired me as many of her other books have and I've learned a lot, both from reading it and from cooking from it. I'll definitely be pulling this one off the shelf when I have friends over who have dietary requirements and I find that unlike some similar books by other authors, Simply Nigella offers realistic recipes that are straightforward, easy enough to make and mostly don't require expensive ingredients that are difficult if not impossible to find.  I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy and if you already have it, I'd love to hear what your favorite recipes are from the book in the comments below!
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