This will be the first Passover that the Orthodox Union has officially recommended quinoa for Passover and we’re going hard on the protein-packed miracle seed. The beauty of quinoa during the holiday is that it so closely resembles grains and can be swapped into just about any recipe—this close resemblance is also what made the seed so controversial before and delayed the OU’s approval.
The ode to Laurie Colwin’s writing and recipes by Jeff Gordinier in The New York Times brought back fond memories from the test kitchen of the late Gourmet magazine, where I worked happily for any years. I was glad that Gordinier noted that most of her essays appeared in Gourmet. Colwin’s essay series debuted in October, 1991, with Four Easy Pieces, which included descriptions for making soup with a lamb shank, vegetarian chili with black beans and little red ones, homemade bread, and a simple sponge cake. Colwin’s column ran through December, 1993, even though she died in October, 1992. The editor-in-chief at that time, Gail Zweigenthal, told me that Colwin finished up her last year of essays early and handed them in, which fortuitously allowed her to stay alive in the hearts and minds of her many followers for over a year after her death. Although Gordinier describes her recipes as quirkily imprecise and not altogether reliable, rest assured the recipes that appeared in Gourmet were tested. While we might have wanted to tweak an ingredient or procedure here and there occasionally, we pretty much left Colwin’s untouched. Several of her recipes are standbys in my home. The hands down favorite? Rosemary Walnuts. With permission we included it in The Gourmet Cookbook published in 2004 (it’s not in the Epicurious database). The recipe is displayed prominently on the first page of the hors d’ouevre chapter, and the spatters of cayenne-stained butter are proof of how often I turn to it. It’s my go-to party snack. Colwin included the rosemary walnuts in her November, 1992 essay, All The Trimmings, in which she wrote about her favorite Thanksgiving leftover breakfast: A hot cup of coffee and a plate of nice cold stuffing. To her credit, Colwin was quick to acknowledge that the rosemary walnut recipe was not hers but Rosalea Murphy’s from The Pink Adobe Cookbook. But I credit Colwin with spreading the news about how great these spiced nuts are. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe to respond to changes in the marketplace. Colwin called for dried rosemary back when fresh wasn’t so easy to get. I bet she’d have used fresh today. I’ve also cut back slightly on the butter, the salt, and the cayenne. Be forewarned: It’s impossible not to chow down on these nuts! Rosemary Walnuts Adapted from Rosalea Murphy and Laurie Colwin Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small pan over low heat and stir in 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, a rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt (fine sea salt is best), and a scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (use a full 1/2 teaspoon if you love the heat). Drizzle the seasoned butter over 2 cups walnut halves or pieces (halves are pricier so I usually use pieces) and toss well. Spread the coated nuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven until golden on the inside, 10 to 15 minutes. Make these and I guarantee your friends will bug you…
“Why, for instance, would you assume a vegetarian wants sautéed kale in a light cilantro vinaigrette over a deep-fried spinach empanada smothered in hot sauce and mozzarella? Or that we would rather order zucchini spaghetti topped with an organic tomato and sweet potato purée instead of a half-pound lasagna crammed with every cheese, sauce, and seitan sausage imaginable?”
As a vegetarian/ junk food addict, I heartily agree.