Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Simple and Restorative Linguine with Butter and Parmesan and Seven of My Favorite Nigel Slater Recipes

It's the time to say goodbye to cooking a regular weekly recipe with Nigel Slater as I Heart Cooking Clubs, the group I co-host, switches to our new chef Diana Henry. I love Nigel--we cooked together long before IHCC and he is my go-to when I don't have a lot of time but want something comforting and delicious. I have been traveling all week and just got back yesterday. With six time zones difference and a serious case of work and travel weariness, I wasn't sure I would even get a 'Cheerio Nigel!' post up this week to send him off in style, and I surely wouldn't have time to cook anything. But my friends, that is the beauty of Nigel Slater--when you are too tired to even stop by the grocery store and don't want to make much any effort, he has a dish for you waiting in your pantry to be thrown together and enjoyed.

I managed to boil water and grate cheese last night--all that is needed for his Pasta with Butter and Parmesan from Appetite. It was tasty comfort food that was seriously needed and hit the spot nicely! 

And below this pasta goodness, find seven of my favorite Nigel Slater dishes from the past six months.

Linguine with Butter and Parmesan 
Adapted from Appetite by Nigel Slater

"For each person, grate 1/2 cup Parmesan or pecorino. I know this will look like a lot, but generosity is the only route to take here. Toss the hot pasta with a thick slice of your freshest butter (you really should open a new packet for this, as the sweetness of the butter is the whole point) and the grated cheese. The two will melt into a thin sauce that will lightly coat the spaghetti. Spoon over more cheese at the table--or on the floor or the sofa or in bed, or wherever else you might be eating this."

Notes/Results: See, you can tell how my Nigel 'gets me' from the last sentence of his recipe sketch--he knows that this recipe is likely to be consumed from a semi-prone position. (And it was!) I only took the time to snap off a couple of photos before digging into the just-cheesy-and-buttery-enough pasta goodness. My only change was to add a liberal amount of freshly grated black pepper. I had a package of fresh linguine sitting in the fridge that needed to be used so this dish was on the table in less than 15 minutes--mostly boiling the water. I will definitely make it again. 

The Top Seven:

I told myself to only pick my top five Nigel recipes due to lack of time and energy but that proved to be too hard so I allowed myself to add two more. Nigel and I cooked a lot of great food--especially soups, fish, salads, cheesy dishes, and pasta, so the recipes that made the cut were the best of the best of all of those categories. These seven dishes I have made again, used components or techniques of in other dishes, and are the ones I keep thinking about long after I ate them. Enjoy!

I know it is a perfect soup when I whimper mournfully as I scoop out the last of it from the container. Nigel's Quick Fish and Corn Chowder was a perfect soup. That sort of silky-brothy-but-still-creamy texture and wonderful flavor that I stepped up with a couple of additions to his recipe--tarragon and Old Bay Seasoning. The combination of fish--salmon, local opah and hot smoked salmon crumbled on top, along with two types of potatoes and fresh corn, make this chowder the winner out of some very wonderful Nigel soups.

Zucchini with Basil and Goat Cheese on Toast will be the use for the majority of zucchini that finds its way into my veggie drawer. Such a great combination of flavor and texture, it was so good I even "souped it" by recreating the flavors into a creamy and delicious bowl of goodness--Zucchini and Goat Cheese Soup with Basil and Lemon. Looking at that photo I am tempted to go buy another zucchini and have this for dinner. ;-)

I made a spectacular meat-free version of Nigel's Bánh Mì ('Sour, Hot, Crisp, Soft. A Sandwich for the Senses') --piled high with magical pickled veggies--thinly sliced and pickled with lots of ginger and star anise. The sandwich had great flavor and texture and I made extra veggies (they are addicting) and noshed on them as well as added them to a tuna sandwich. 

I adjusted the recipe slightly to fit local ingredients but I LOVED Nigel's Salad of Fennel, Edamame, Arugula and Parmesan with Crispy Croutons and Cheesy Tarragon Dressing. It was a perfect combination of texture and flavor and the dressing was a lovely and creamy combination of the Parmesan and tarragon (and has been made again several times). With the warm crispy but tender croutons on top it was a delight.

Nigel and pasta are a wonderful combination and this Tortellini with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce, Toasted Pine Nuts, & Golden Tomatoes was my favorite out of some very good pasta dishes, mostly for the creamy but piquant sauce that I have since used on more pasta dishes, as a soup topping, and even with fish. I tossed in the cherry tomatoes for color and their sweetness was a good contrast to the herby sauce. Yum!

It was a toss up for me between two of Nigel's fish dishes but for appearance, health and ease of preparation, his Sesame Seed Salmon with Mirin just slightly edged out his Lemon-Tarragon Salmon (and it's prettier too!). You do need to marinate the salmon in the mirin (Japanese rice wine) and sesame oil for about 30 minutes but after that, it goes together in the blink of an eye. The salmon stays perfectly moist--one of my favorite ways to cook it now.

My version of Nigel's Buttered Eggs kept the sherry vinegar, reduced the butter by half, and added tarragon--and they were fabulous! Simple but decadent comfort food that has inspired me to splash about my under-used bottle of sherry vinegar more. This was a quick and easy indulgent breakfast dish served over toasted bread to soak up those wonderfully runny yolks.

Oh my what a lot of yummy dishes Nigel and I cooked together! I know we will keeping cooking together anytime I want something fast, simple and good. 

Next week we start cooking with the amazingly talented and globally-inspired chef Diana Henry at IHCC. (I'll be starting off my six months with her tomorrow with a wonderful Moroccan soup!) Follow the link to check out her web page and consider cooking along with us for the next six months. I Heart Cooking Clubs offers a brilliant chef to discover and cook with every six months, fun weekly themes, an ability to drop in-and-out as your time allows, and a monthly Potluck event where you can cook any recipe from any of our ten previous chefs. Come join in the fun!


  1. You are making me wish I had cooked more with you all and Nigel!

  2. You are making me wish I had cooked more with you all and Nigel!

  3. Couscous & ConsciousnessOctober 4, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Yum, Deb - I am going to remember this pasta dish, the next night that I come home from work, exhausted and almost too tired to think, let alone cook - which in all probability will only be a few days away :-) Great round-up too - you made some awesome dishes.

  4. I enjoy watching his shows. This sounds great, rest up!

  5. Deb, there are a few Nigel books I don't have yet and Appetite is one of them. Do you recommend it? I was wondering if it was similar to The Kitchen Diaries or Fast Food. Those two are different formats.

    I like what you have made here, pasta dishes are always on my favorite list.

  6. Boy, you made some wonderful food in homage to Nigel!

  7. Your blog is such a pleasure to read- all the dishes and photos look good to me. Looking forward to your next adventure and the Moroccan soup ( we always love a good middle Eastern soup!

  8. Hi Deb,
    Simple is always the best! And your simple pasta looks beautiful and delicious! I can see why the seven dishes are your favourites! I will be seeing Nigel again for our Potluck week!
    Looking forward to cook with Diana Henry!
    Thanks to you, Kim and Sue, for doing a great job with IHCC!

  9. Yes, linguine with butter and parmesan is meant to be eaten on the couch, sofa, or bed. It's the only way to enjoy good comfort food. Your seven faves all look tempting. Tortellini in a creamy basil caper sauce is calling my name right now...must be craving pasta:)

  10. Your blog is such a pleasure to read- all the dishes and photos look
    good to me. Looking forward to your next adventure and the Moroccan soup
    ( we always love a good middle Eastern soup!

  11. Such a simple but delicous meal. I can't say which is my favourite recipe, I liked them all

  12. That pasta looks perfect for when you need a little comfort quickly. Your roundup looks delicious.


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