credit Alfred Kenneally via unsplash

Five days of Nigella

By Eve Zebedee

Eve tries 5 days of cooking Nigella’s Recipe of the Day

At the start of the year, I had 30,000 emails in my inbox. Since then, I have created a filter that deletes every email with “unsubscribe” in it (even the seemingly endless LinkedIn job alerts have relented). Now, only one subscription slips through: Nigella’s Recipe of the Day. For those not yet subscribed (what are you doing?), Nigella – I like to think personally – sends a recipe to your inbox every day. In true Nigella style, this can range from marmite spaghetti to lamb with rosemary and port. As a student that sometimes makes toast for tea (yet continues to spend Saturdays loitering around the cookbook section of the Oxfam bookshop) , I would quite like to start embodying the hostess-goddess Nigella aura. What is more, I currently spend a significant amount of time being disproportionately stressed about looming deadlines. In the Times last year, a particularly heartwarming piece was published about Nathan Young’s Blog – 365 days of Nigella – which he created to cope with his anxiety. Me and Nathan are definitely not in comparable situations, with his writing seeing him become a father in the midst of it. My 5 days will consist more of pub trips and flatmate politics, but I will still hope that Nigella gets in touch to make me lunch. 

I started my week like any true student, with a trip to Lidl. I had an inventory of what was floating around my fridge (quite literally, my fridge likes to freeze and defrost food on a whim), and any additional bits came to a very reasonable £16.26 (factoring in everything I got distracted by in the middle of Lidl). 

Monday: Chicken traybake with bitter orange and fennel.

Beginning slightly hesitantly, as I have watched Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget recently, this recipe, much like Aardman’s most recent film, does demand emotional investment as you have to marinade the chicken the night before. Surprise, surprise, Lidl did not sell fennel, but google told me I could replace it with the cumin seeds at the back of my cupboard. I used normal oranges in place of Seville, with a bit of shop-bought lemon juice, and chicken breast instead of thigh. I didn’t put mustard in this either… reading this back you could argue I made an entirely different recipe. Not really a Lidl friendly recipe, and I think it suffered in my hands as a result. 

Tuesday: Golden egg curry

Tuesday is the worst day of the week. This particular Tuesday, I was enraged due to particularly awful Glasgow weather. In normal circumstances, I’d be making beans on toast. Instead, I was rooting through cupboards to find a blender. In an odd twist of fate, my flatmate just so happened to have some tamarind paste lying around. Once you’ve gone through the slightly labour-intensive step of blending the paste, this recipe is very easy, and turned my day right around (once accompanied with an episode of The Traitors), potentially even more so than beans on toast would have. In terms of leftovers, Nigella was one step ahead of me, and suggested you make the sauce in excess, so you can add an egg at your liberty. For lunch I had the depressing experience of eating a microwaved egg with a defrosted tortilla wrap as an even more despair-inducing flatbread. Learn from my mistakes.

Wednesday: Spelt spaghetti with sesame mushrooms

Apparently the spelt spaghetti acts as noodles in this recipe, so I took that as explicit permission to just use some noodles. I have the very British quality of managing to overcook everything, so it turned into a texturally offensive umami-mush. How sad for both the dish and my credentials as a chef.  

Thursday: Minestrone

Despite my best efforts, with certainty Thursday evenings end in a trip to the pub. As a result, I could not muster the strength to make minestrone soup. However, never underestimate Nigella, because her “Minestrone in Minutes” made the perfect replacement. I always judge my flatmates for making “tomato soup pasta” (cooking pasta in Heinz tomato soup). Previously viewing this as a criminal offence, akin to walking around the flat barefoot, I realised this minestrone is essentially just a glorified version. Therefore, I have Nigella to thank for opening my eyes and restoring harmony in my home.

Friday: Hummus

I consider myself to be somewhat of a hummus connoisseur, i.e. I buy Sabra hummus from time to time. Therefore, I glanced at the recipe for this one, because how hard can making hummus be? I swapped tahini for peanut butter (apologies if, like The Glasgow Guardian‘s Food and Drink Editor, you find this repulsive – it works), and I shamefully used bottled lemon juice. If I were to make this again I would up the peanut butter and chill out on the vampire-repellent quantity of garlic. Or, you could just buy hummus. 

My week taught me many things: learn how not to overcook food, I should stop judging my flatmates’ meals, and you can make too many substitutions in a recipe. Most importantly though, setting aside a little time to make something that isn’t pesto pasta, or, the most depressing stress-meal in my repertoire, plain rice, can give you some much-needed perspective to combat a deadline-induced spiral. As Dolly Alderton posted on her Instagram story once, “Deny yourself nothing”. That coursework is never worth eating library pot-noodles for five days in a row.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments