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Nell Newman's commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture,
as well as charitable giving, certainly marks her as the progeny of
Newman's Own food company founder and actor Paul Newman. We mark her
dedication here with some of her favorite recipes.

Nell Newman Recipes

Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup
Spicy Raisin Walnut Bread
Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce

   Profile: Nell Newman        

Snacking Her Way to Sustainable Agriculture 

Nell Newman is the daughter of Joanne Woodward and “Pa” Paul Newman, actor and founder of the Newman’s Own line of foods. The Newman brand name has done much to bring social consciousness to the grocery aisle. It also led to the 1993 birth of Newman’s Own Organics (run by Nell), which marries two of Nell’s passions: a love of food and a commitment to sustainable agriculture.

A lifelong environmentalist, Nell holds a degree in human ecology, has worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, and is former executive director of the Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary in California.

After years of reestablishing threatened peregrine falcons and bald eagles in California, she saw just how devastating pesticides could be. “The eggs of these birds had such high levels of contaminants that they were too thin to hatch,” she says.

Since becoming an independent entity, Newman’s Own Organics has followed in the parent company’s footsteps and donated millions of dollars in after-tax profits to charity through a grant process.

“I’m thrilled to be able to support sustainable agriculture on both ends,” Nell says. “We use organic ingredients to support organic farmers, and then we donate profits to sustainable ag groups like the Organic Farming Research Foundation.”


Nell's Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup

This soup originated during one of Nell’s refrigerator-cleaning sprees, in which she throws all her leftovers into a pot, heats them, and waits to see what happens. The result here is a fantastically fresh-tasting, slightly lemony cream soup. Use fresh green peas if you can. They make a world of difference flavor-wise.  (Makes 8 servings)

2 1/4 cups water

1 cup millet or rice, rinsed

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 onion, chopped

1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Salt and pepper



Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the millet or rice. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the grain is soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, combine the broth, onion, and cauliflower. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the cauliflower is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor in batches and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and heat gently over low heat. Stir in the Parmesan, lemon juice, peas, and millet. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Helping Hand 1: A high-protein staple grain in Asia and Africa, millet looks like a tiny oval, ivory-colored seed. Look for it in the rice aisle of your supermarket or health food store. If you can’t find it, rice makes a fine substitute.

Helping Hand 2: If you have a hand-held stick blender, by all means use that instead of transferring the soup to an upright blender to puree.

Helping Hand 3: Like most soups, this one tastes great reheated after a day or two in the refrigerator.

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Nell's Spicy Raisin Walnut Bread

You’ll be surprised how good this recipe is without any eggs or butter. This makes a wonderful snack or breakfast bread. (Makes 12 servings)  

2 cups whole grain pastry flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup organic low-fat milk
1/4 cup very strong brewed coffee
2 cups raisins
2 cups chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9” x 5” loaf pan with spray oil.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, molasses, milk, and coffee. Stir into the flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.

Helping Hand 1: To save time, replace the spices with 2 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice.

Helping Hand 2: To make a vegan version of this bread (no animal products), use soy milk instead of cow’s milk.

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Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce

This is the perfect pasta sauce for a lazy late-summer day. Just toss chopped tomatoes into a simple vinaigrette and let them marinate all day. No cooking! A final grating of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese makes a nice touch. (Makes 4 to 6 servings)  

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 pound penne or other shaped pasta, preferably whole-grain
8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil


In a large bowl (large enough to hold the pasta), combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and tomatoes. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours.

When you’re almost ready to eat, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and add the hot pasta to the tomatoes along with the fontina and basil. Toss to mix. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Helping Hand 1: A semifirm yet creamy Italian cheese, fontina has a mildly rich, almost nutty flavor. It’s a superb melting cheese. If you can’t find it, use cubes of good-quality mozzarella.

Helping Hand 2: Grilled vegetables make a wonderful addition to the mix here. Try cutting zucchini into thick slabs, coating them with oil, salt, and pepper, then grilling the slabs for about 5 minutes per side. Coarsely chop, then add along with the fontina.

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