Plonking a fried egg on top of baked lettuce leaves, Nigella Lawson breezily announced her creation was a "riff on Caesar salad".
But her bizarre twist on the classic dish proved considerably harder for her viewers, and some fellow chefs, to swallow.
"A crime against cooking" was among the less flattering descriptions posted on Twitter by viewers left struggling to digest what they had just witnessed.
And Michelin star winner Jean-Christophe Novelli suggested she should have just called it "baked lettuce with an egg".
Miss Lawson, 55, roasted half a lettuce in the oven with garlic, olive oil lemon zest and anchovies, topped it with a fried egg and parmesan cheese shavings, then served it with a slice of toast for her take on the dish during Monday night's episode of Simply Nigella. A Caesar salad usually contains crisp lettuce leaves, croutons, parmesan, a creamy dressing and a topping of chicken, bacon or sometimes egg.
During the show, which was watched by 2.1million, Miss Lawson said: "There are those who believe that to fiddle in any way with a classic recipe is an act of desecration. Well, it's not a dishonourable stance, but it is a flawed one. The classics, in food as in literature, are the very forms that can withstand and indeed spawn a plethora of interpretations.
"Anyway, I can't apologise for taking liberties with a Caesar salad when the outcome is so pleasurable."
She added: "I suppose this riff in a way is like a culinary joke but it is so seriously good." But few were laughing after seeing it.
Novelli, 54, said: "Anyone who has trained as a professional chef, who has been taught about the classics, and I believe the Caesar salad is a classic, knows that you do not change it. People remember the texture of this dish, it's crunchy. You do not change that."
Many viewers agreed. On Twitter one said: "Deconstruction gone mad on Simply Nigella. I switched off after watching this crime against cooking."
Another added: "Think Nigella's lost it. She just baked a lettuce with anchovies, put a fried egg on top and called it a dish."
Simply Nigella represents the chef's comeback to the BBC. It follows a difficult few years in which she was divorced from Charles Saatchi and gave evidence in a trial during which she admitted taking cocaine.
After the first episode of the show, Miss Lawson was criticised for kicking off with a "recipe" for avocado on toast. One disappointed viewer of the BBC2 show joked on social media that "she'll be teaching us how to make a cuppa next".
Her breakfast bars from the second episode were criticised for including expensive ingredients such as goji berries and chia seeds.
- Daily Mail