‘SOMETIMES we just want to eat.” So says Nigel Slater in “Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food,” his latest cookbook to reach the United States. Sometimes there is not time for full-on artistry, or to surrender into the meditative process cooking can be. But, says Slater, “by ‘fast,’ I do not mean thoughtless or careless,” nor is takeout his proposed solution.
The charmingly fat little book, humbly bound in cloth, was just released by its American publisher this fall, about a year after it was issued in the U.K. (Enter at the bottom of the page to win a copy.)
Don’t let its smaller trim size fool you: There are 600 ideas inside.
Forget arranging the recipes and variations in predictable chapters like “Entrees” or “Chicken,” though. “Eat” organizes the way we cook and eat, such as “In a Bowl” or “In the Hand,” or “In the Frying Pan” or my favorite section: “Under a Crust.”
Yes, Slater admits, making proper pastry dough may be too time-consuming for weeknights–but what about tucking dinner under torn corn tortillas, or “a cloud of yellow mash” (parsnips), or a bit of ready-made pastry, or just turning it into a gratin to make it slightly more special and finished?
The recipes in “Eat,” including fish and meat and also lots of vegetable-based things, are written simply—“in the style of an extended Tweet,” says Slater, most ending with a fun, sometimes-sensual little description.
“Cheerful, singing flavors,” is the punchline of Eggplant Paneer. Lentil Bolognaise? “Earthy, frugal and filling.” Spaghetti Bake is, “a savory tangle.” Quick Spiced Rice: “a little lifesaver,” and alive with flavor, too, from Thai red curry paste, edamame, carrot, vegetable stock, eggs and cilantro.
Potatoes with Spices and Spinach got me at, “ Hot, cool, crisp, soft.” And it is:
potatoes with spices and spinach
potatoes, cayenne, red pepper ﬂakes, turmeric, cumin, garlic, spinach, shallots, yogurt, cilantro
Cut 1¾ pounds (800g) large starchy potatoes into big pieces and cook in a large pot of salted water for about 15 minutes, till approaching tenderness. Peel 5 large shallots and halve them lengthwise. Drain the potatoes, then put them in a bowl, add the shallots, and toss with half a teaspoon of cayenne, a teaspoon of red pepper ﬂakes, a teaspoon of crushed garlic, and a teaspoon each of ground cumin and turmeric. Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt ﬂakes and 4 tablespoons of peanut oil, then transfer to a roasting pan and bake at 400ºF (200ºC) until crisp. Wash a couple of large handfuls of spinach. Put them in a pan over moderate heat, cover with a lid, and leave for a minute or two to wilt. Toss with the crisp potatoes, a little yogurt, and torn cilantro.
Enough for 2 to 3. Hot, cool, crisp, soft.
(From “Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food,” [affiliate link] copyright Nigel Slater; photo copyright Jonathan Lovekin)
more about nigel slater
NIGEL SLATER is a prolific producer of award-winning books, exceedingly popular BBC cooking series and documentaries, plus other television endeavors, and his food columns for “The Observer.”
enter to win the book ‘eat’
I’LL BUY A COPY of “Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food,” for a lucky reader, and all you have to do to enter is answer this question in the box at the very bottom of the page, after the very last comment:
What is “fast” food to you (assuming we’re talking dinner)? Takeout; letftovers quickly reinvented in minutes; a half-hour from-scratch; or more? Any fast favorites to recommend? (I always have corn tortillas on hand to wrap something in; various bean concoctions cooked and frozen in portions; and I cook up a pot of brown rice every Sunday as another underpinning.)
No answer, or feeling shy? Just say, “Count me in” or something like that, and I will, but a reply is even better. I’ll pick a winner at random after entries close at midnight Tuesday, October 21, 2014. U.S. and Canada only.
Boil some whole grain pasta. Top with pesto and roasted red peppers from the freezer. Add toasted walnuts.
Fast food for me is healthy fruits and vegetables that I bring with me since I’m always on the run!
Fast food at my house is tacos: lean ground beef, chopped and sauteed peppers, chopped tomatoes, soft tortillas, salsa from a jar and sour cream. I can have dinner ready to eat in 30 minutes, less if there is someone helping chop or cook the meat.
Left overs in the fridge or home made soup from the freezer are great, quick eats on a week night.
Fast food is anything I can whip together in under an hour. Favorites at our house “throw it all in the oven”- roasted veggies with pork chops or small pork roast; “clean out the fridge” soup (sorta self explanatory) with quesadillas; “frozen chicken”- frozen boneless chicken breasts with various sauces/seasonings- italian salad dressing; lemon & capers; salsa.
Fast food is anything I can cook up in a half-hour; it has to be healthy and flavorful as well. Usually this is veggies and tortillas or some healthy Trader Joe’s meal that I pull out of the freezer.
Leftover fish basted in teriyaki
Sauce and panko bread crumbs.
Stuffed peppers or Green chili Stew out of the freezer. Woking everything we can out of the Garden and /or Crisper Drawer and just eating that, possibly with a little rice.
Fast food is good ole reliable eggs; always in the fridge, easy to scramble/poach/fry with an endless variety of additions to make them my go -to comfort fast food.
i forage in the fridge, round up leftover cooked veggies or chicken or whatever and hopefully at least one fresh veggie, chop all up. Then forage in the pantry for some pasta, favorite is angel hair spaghetti and I always have canned anchovies on hand ( or not if you hate them!). Cook pasta, and while that is cooking sauté the veggies, cut and chop a few of whatever fresh herbs I have in pots. When pasta is cooked, save a little of the cooking water to mix into the veggies, serve pasta with veggies on top, the lay on the anchovies, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with chopped herbs.
Anything with pesto; eggs; cheese, and always have on hand leftover veggies.
Imagination has spurred on many a delicious EAT!
Quesadillas in any form, corn or flour tortillas with cheese and whatever else is available
One of my family’s favorite fast food dishes uses just 3 main ingredients: kale, quinoa and smoked salmon. Saute kale with garlic, toss in some cooked quinoa and then add smoked salmon and cracked pepper at the last minute, heat just to warm through and meld the flavors. There are never any left overs with this dish
Count me in!! I use whatever is in the house for quick meals! Right now it is apple everything, as we have many apples to put up and get them ready to store for winter.
chicken broth with rice noodles, spinach mushrooms and an egg, oh and of course a few red pepper flakes
Eggs from my beautiful chickens provide us with many a quick or on-the-go meal. Shakshouka is a favorite, made with sauce I freeze throughout the month of August when tomatoes from the garden overwhelm me. Huevos Rancheros hits the spot – I, too, have corn tortillas on hand at all times – scrambled eggs with peppers, salsa and cheese make a killer breakfast burrito to be eaten on way to work. Omelets or frittatas made with leftovers, poached eggs over greens with a lovely vinaigrette, or sometimes I just grab a couple of boiled eggs and make egg salad. It’s all good!
Fast food for me is anything growing in the garden!
That’s me in for the draw for the book!!
Count me in, please! I love Nigel Slater’s books and recipes. He is the one who inspires me to create deliciousness at every setting! That said, a simple bowl of quick-cooking oatmeal did it for me this morning, with the ease and richness of a whole grain, served warm and spicy with a plug of cinnamon, crushed walnuts, and a little drizzle of maple syrup for a tasty, warm, and healthy ‘quicky’ of a breakfast!
Whatever I find in my fridge and pantry.
I always have soups, fresh veggies and fruit available.
AND of course I have 15 bottles of homemade passata with basil I helped a friend make in my pantry that would go with any noodles or pasta!
Today’s recipe converted me! Count me in! I oven roast a lot of my vegetables.
Count me in!
Count me in! (Fast food to me is spaghetti with garlic, oil, parmesan [the real stuff], and black pepper.)
Fast food at our home is fresh and simple. I go to the garden, cut some chives, thyme and leafy vegetables like swiss chard, reddicio and sorrel, pull an onion, dig a few potatoes and pick some tomatoes. The onion, potatoes and tomatoes are cut into wedges and roasted. I chiffonade the leafy vegetables and saute them in olive oil. Sometimes I cut sausages into bite size pieces and cook them. Finally the roasted and sauteed vegetables are combined with the sausage and seasoned. I often serve the mixture with fish or create a frittata with the vegetables and sausage mixed with whisked eggs, placed in an oven proof dish, sprinkled with grated cheese and baked.
I cook for myself every nite. A way of creating a supportive environment. Fast is around one hour. It’s all about the process, time is not as important. If I don’t win I’ll be buying a copy.
I LOVE Nigel Slater. I’ve watched Simple Suppers so many times I have all the recipes memorized. And he and Nigella Lawson make the most CHARMING TV couple ever. Two people obsessed with food. I’d love his book.
My go-to Fast Food? Probably something in a flour tortilla. Maybe leftovers tipped into a baking dish with a rough puff crust laid over them. In a pinch, and with the ingredients handy, one of Nigel’s chicken burgers. With chips from a bag. Mmmmm