Great food can be celebrated without stress. That’s the main message that celebrated cookbook author Nigella Lawson wants to get across in her latest book, Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food, out tomorrow. In the book, which is equal parts inspirational and practical, Lawson shares 125 breakfasts and brunches, bowl foods, suppers, and sweet treats for nourishing oneself, friends, and family.
Below, we’re sharing an early look at Simply Nigella with a few of the cookbook’s recipes: Nigella’s riff on Caesar salad, a low-maintenance, high-impact salad, and her favorite recipe for banana bread. If you like what you see, be sure to join us at one of our Simply Nigella book signings. Reserve your spot and purchase your book in advance for one of the following signings:
A Riff on a Caesar Salad
I have subverted the Caesar Salad before. In How To Eat, I replaced the traditional croutons with some mini-cubes of potatoes, roasted till crunchy, and tossed – still hot – into the salad, and often still make it thus. My new, heat-blasted version here is a greater deviation and, for me, it’s the perfect supper after a long working day, or a fine lunch on a leisurely Saturday. For those missing the crouton element, I suggest a large croûte, in the form of a piece of toast, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, to munch alongside.
1 romaine heart
2 tablespoons regular olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
4 anchovy fillets (the sort packed in oil), finely chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon, plus 1/2 lemon to serve
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Parmesan to shave over
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Cut the romaine heart in half lengthways and lay both halves on a small baking or aluminum foil pan, cut-side up. Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and chopped anchovies in a bowl, and spoon over the lettuce. Put the pan in the oven to cook for 10 minutes, then add the finely grated lemon zest and the juice and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until wilted and slightly charred at the edges.
In a small cast iron or heavy-based, non-stick frying pan that is just big enough to fry 2 eggs – I use an 8 inches in diameter one – pour in the vegetable oil. When hot, crack in 1 egg, followed by the other, and fry until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still runny.
Put a romaine half on each serving plate and top with a fried egg. Using a vegetable peeler, shave strips of Parmesan over each plate, adding 1/2 lemon, too, in case more is needed to squeeze over.
Feta and avocado salad with red onions, pomegranate, and nigella seeds
Should nigella seeds (called kalonji in Indian cooking, where they are used a lot) elude you, and you have to leave them out, I promise I won’t be offended. Black mustard seeds are a more-than-acceptable substitute here; or you can drop the spice element altogether. A good quality Greek extra-virgin olive oil is my anointing olive oil of choice, and it goes perfectly here, strong and true, despite the geo-political discordancy.
1/2 red onion, peeled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 ounces feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon nigella or black mustard seeds
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Slice the red onion into fine half-moons and put this delicate tangle into a small, non-metallic bowl, pour the vinegar over this, and make sure all of the onion is submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to steep.
When the vinegar’s done its trick and the onion strips are lit up like shards of a stained-glass window designed by Schiaparelli, get on with the rest of the salad.
Get out 2 plates, and divide the feta between them, breaking it up into uneven chunks. Sprinkle it with the nigella or black mustard seeds.
Peel and remove the pit from the avocado, then cut the flesh into long, thin, gondola-shaped slices, and arrange around the feta. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and trickle with a green gleam of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with the onions, lifted from their steeping juice and draped over the plate.
Make-ahead note: The pickled onions can be made up to 1 week ahead. Put into a non-metallic container, cover, and store in refrigerator until needed.
Breakfast Banana Bread With Cardamom and Cacao Nibs
I positively will everyone in the house not to eat the bananas so that they overripen and I have an excuse to make this. I love all the variants of banana bread I have ever made – much more than I do bananas – but this one is on another level. The smoky bitterness that emanates from both the cardamom and cacao nibs offers a subtle foil to the natural and rich sweetness of the bananas. As this is for breakfast, it isn’t terribly sweet, so feel free to up the sugar to 2 1/4 cups if you have a sweet tooth and want to indulge it. It is also excellent (and tastes sweeter) when toasted and spread with unsalted butter.
Cuts into 12 generous slices
2 very ripe or overripe bananas (approx. 3/4 cup mashed)
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup plain (runny) yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup light and mild olive oil
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom, or seeds from 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, ground
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1 x 2-pound loaf pan approx. 9 x 6 1/2 x 3 inches
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and put a paper liner into your loaf pan (or line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides with a little vegetable oil).
I do the whole thing using a freestanding mixer, but a bowl and an electric whisk, or a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease would be fine. Mash the bananas (and if you’re not using a freestanding mixer, use a fork and a smallish bowl first, otherwise the flat paddle of a freestanding mixer will do) and beat in 1 egg at a time, followed by the yogurt or buttermilk, then the oil, and beat it all together. I measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom into a bowl, and whisk together, while this is going on.
Slow the speed down while you add the dry ingredients, gradually, beating all the while, and then turn the speed slightly higher again, and beat for 1 minute until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. You may have to scrape the bowl down and give a short final beat if you notice any flour sticking to the edges of the bowl. Then, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the cacao nibs by hand and transfer the mixture to your prepared pan and thence to the oven for 1 hour (it is wise to start checking at 45 minutes) or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Sit the loaf pan on a wire rack and leave the banana bread in the pan until cold. Slip it out, in its paper liner (or parchment paper), and wrap with more parchment and then aluminum foil and keep for a day – if you can – before eating.
Store Note: Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap cake in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. To thaw, unwrap and put on a wire rack at room temperature for about 5 hours. Or wrap individual slices in plastic wrap and put into a resealable bag, and thaw by toasting on a low heat.
Reprinted from Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food. Copyright © 2015 by Nigella Lawson. Published by Flatiron Books.