Coming out of her shell for a nutty surprise
By Kerry McCray
McClatchy Newspapers
Walnut-coated fried chicken.
Mac and cheese topped with walnuts.
Coleslaw studded with walnuts.
I like walnuts, but these recipes sound … well … weird.
So weird I had to try one.
A little background: The dishes come from a San Francisco public-relations firm that represents the California Walnut Board.
Seems the firm got renowned cookbook author Mollie Katzen to make over classic, high-calorie dishes using – can you guess? – walnuts.
The results are, I admit, a little kooky. Mac and cheese with walnuts?
But I love Katzen – her “Moosewood” cookbooks are among the most food-spattered in our kitchen. I couldn’t imagine she could create anything bad.
So I gave the coleslaw a shot. And I’m glad I did.
Shopping was a breeze, and ingredients were relatively inexpensive – two big pluses in my book. Prep was a bit time-consuming, but you can buy pre-shredded cabbage to make your life easier.
When it came time to make the dressing, I couldn’t bring myself to use low-fat mayonnaise, so I used the full-fat stuff. I also used low-fat yogurt, not nonfat as the recipe specified.
The dish was lovely – and surprising. The dressing was ultra-creamy. The pears added an unexpected sweetness. The walnuts gave a nutty flavor to the mix and added a satisfying crunch.
All this got me thinking … maybe I will try the walnut mac and cheese after all.
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SMART COLESLAW WITH PEARS, WALNUTS AND CRANBERRIES
Serves: 6
This recipe is from Mollie Katzen for the California Walnut Board. This tastes best when it’s made at least a day (and up to two days) ahead of time. Leave out the pear and walnuts until just before serving.
Ingredients:
2 pounds cabbage (one each, red and green), shredded
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 cup red onion, very finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or light-colored honey
1/2 cup cranberries, dried, or minced fresh
1 to 2 Bosc pears
Up to a cup of chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
Wedges of lemon
Instructions:
Combine the cabbage, carrot and onion in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, toss to combine, and set aside.
In a second (small) bowl, combine the vinegar, mayonnaise, yogurt and syrup or honey, and whisk until smooth. Pour this, along with the cranberries, into the vegetables, and toss to mix well. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid, cover and refrigerate until shortly before serving time.
Just before serving, cut the pear into thin strips and gently mix into the coleslaw. Top with walnuts and serve right away, accompanied by squeezable wedges of lemon.
Note: Be sure to use a Bosc pear for this, as it’s the only type firm enough to hold up texturally.


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