The day after our big move down here, I sat down on our couch and turned on the TV to see what food programming Hulu had to offer that could satiate my normal ritual of watching Food Network no matter how much (or little) I liked the actual shows. Almost immediately I found Nigellissima–a love letter from Nigella Lawson to Italian food–and I immediately fell in love. Much like Made in Spain, she splits her time between being in Italy and back in her London flat for cooking, and every episode–all six of them–is as comforting and soothing to watch as you’d expect from a Nigella show.
What I love about her is that she has a very explorer-like approach to food. While she’ll present her spin on things, she also will show you some of the thought behind how she got to that point. A great example is when she discusses pesto Trapanese in one episode: set in her massive cookbook library, she pulls out a few books (including Made in Sicily, one of my favorites!) and talks about how this sauce has been interpreted by others before going on to explain how she likes to make it. It’s natural, and thoughtful, and it does a great job of showing rather than simply telling me about how her recipe came about.
In the first episode she makes this dish called a tagliata for two, based on a dish she had in Florence. It’s meant to be a simpler version of the big traditional Florentine steak. Instead of a porterhouse, you instead use a New York strip (or in our case, small boneless ribeyes) and grill it for about two minutes on each side to keep it rare. Then you put it in a simple marinade of oregano, olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and red wine vinegar and let it rest, flipping once to make sure both sides of the meat get a taste of it. Then while one person slices the steak, the other can place a bunch of halved cherry or grape tomatoes in the marinade, cut side down, and smoosh them around a bit before pouring everything back on top of the meat slices and serving. The second I saw her make it, I immediately G-chatted Michael while he was at the gym and was basically a big ball of excitement because it looked so good and I knew he would be super into it. This was the first time in awhile that I was genuinely excited about making a recipe I had seen on TV (having watched and re-watched all of the Rachel Khoo and Lorraine Pascale’s episodes on Cooking Channel several times over by that point) and not only did I order the cookbook that inspired the show shortly thereafter, I carefully paced myself through the series to not blow through it too quickly.
Unfortunately the show isn’t on Hulu at the moment as far as I can tell, but hopefully it will be back eventually; in the meantime, I would encourage you to get the cookbook. Her header notes and recipe instructions are as entertaining to read as she is to watch, and there are some real gems contained therein.
Tagliata for Two
Adapted from Nigellissima
- 2 small boneless ribeye steaks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- One dried red pepper, crushed (I like arbol or Japanese hot peppers)
- 2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped
- 8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- Kosher salt
Dry off steaks with paper towels and then liberally season them with salt on both sides and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place a cast-iron pan or grill on high heat and let it warm up for a few minutes, and while it does so make the marinade for the steak.
In a shallow plate or dish large enough to snugly hold the steaks, combine the olive oil, vinegar, crushed red pepper, oregano, and salt and whisk well. Once this is made, cook the steaks for two minutes on each side, and then immediately place them into the marinade to rest for two minutes on each side. Remove and place on a cutting board for slicing on the diagonal.
Place the halved tomatoes, cut side down, in the marinade, smooshing them a bit, and then drizzle the tomatoes and marinade over the sliced steak and serve immediately with salad.