I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunity to write an opinion column about food. Here’s my very first, a food manifesto of sorts, which hits on a number of topics that I will return to in weeks and months (and hopefully years) to come.
Want to read every single Minimalist column of all-time? Of course you do. September 17, 1997 to January 26, 2011. Have at it.
By Freya Bellin
This pilaf proves that a simple grain like rice can be transformed into something pretty complex, without too much work on your part. The Spanish flavors of this dish come through strongly—especially the smoky pimentón, which is a great contrast to the overall sweetness of the dish. I personally found myself digging through the bowl for even more apricots, so you may want to chop up and toss in a few more than the recipe suggests. You could experiment with other dried fruits here as well, like golden raisins.
While most of the cook-time in this recipe is hands-off, brown rice can require some attention. I added more water a few times throughout the simmering process, as the pot was starting to dry out, but the rice was still crunchy. The couscous variation would certainly be useful if you’re in a time-bind or if you want to multi-task. The wonderful thing about a recipe like this is that, thanks to the protein from almonds and chickpeas, it can be a meal in and of itself. I served it with beets to squeeze in some vegetables, but it’s completely filling and satisfying on its own. Plus, any recipe that calls for ½ cup of wine leaves you with most of a bottle left for drinking, which is never a bad thing. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
One-Hour Vegetable Stock
Makes: about 1 quart
Time: 1 hour, somewhat unattended
For this stock, you cut the vegetables into small pieces, which extracts greater flavor; you pan-cook them first, which browns them at least a bit and makes the flavor more complex; and you add a couple more flavorful ingredients (the mushrooms make a difference, as you’ll quickly see, as does the soy sauce). If you have more time for simmering, use it.
Double the quantities here if you want to make enough stock to freeze. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
As if I haven’t posted enough Minimalist links today, here’s me cooking three of my all-time favorites on the Today Show.
Thank you to everyone who has read the Minimalist column. It has been thirteen wonderful years of cooking and thinking about food. Here’s to many, many more (and some champagne for the road.)
My friend and colleague Gabe Johnson has shot and produced every single Minimalist video (more than 200.) Here he describes his favorite one to shoot (and more importantly to eat.)
Here are my 25 all-time favorite Minimalist recipes (for one reason or another.) What are yours?
Here are the 20 most watched Minimalist videos (the perfect way to kill an hour!)
Today I’m bidding farewell to The Minimalist. It’s been thirteen wonderful years (almost 700 columns.) I may be leaving the Dining section (there might be some return appearances,) but I’m not travelling far. Starting next week I’ll be writing in The Times opinion pages (and in a new blog there as well,) and beginning in March in The Times Magazine (plenty of recipes, most Sundays.) Check back throughout the day for some bonus links.