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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about vegetarian food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer more money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.

Whoppin' Big Lentil Burgers

Twenty-Sixth in a series of articles


Well Howdy there darlins',

I done noticed the weather's warmin' up at last, an' I been thinkin' 'bout a different kinda sandwich fer summer that's a-comin' on purty fast now. An' sandwiches don't take much fussin' neither so they's nice eatin' fer summertime.

Now I hear lots o' folks been thinkin' 'bout losin' weight and givin' up eatin' bread. Well, that's jes fine an' dandy with me, 'cause I got a surprise sandwich that don't even need the bread. An' what a fine tastin' supper it's gonna be.

Now, I knows y'all been workin' on savin' money, too, so makin' good choices 'bout what yer eatin' is mighty important. Y'all don't need fancy food ta put a good meal under yer belt. Why, my kin was dirt poor, yet they was still fit as a fiddle eatin' beans 'stead o' meat. An' they didn't have no weight problems neither like so many folks do today.

So here's a nice surprise fer y'all. I done whipped up a fine tastin' lentil burger with plenty o' spices an' cooked 'em up nice an' thin and purty firm so's they could be the bread fer yer sandwich 'stead o' bread. Now, ya cain't beat lentils fer their goodness. Why they's bustin' with fiber an' protein an plenty o' minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, an' selenium--so's they gotcha covered real good.

I was even surprised ta see them lentils even got vitamin K. Well, ain't that mighty nice ta know! Most folks know vitamin K is real important fer helpin' yer blood ta clot, but I betcha didn't know that vitamin helps keep calcium in yer bones!

If'n yer wonderin' what's so speshul 'bout my lentil burgers, I kin tell ya true, they's got such good tastin' spices, a tad o' good old fashioned rolled oats, an' some walnuts fer more goodness. That's what they's got. An' when ya got 'em all baked up, why y'all kin have a fine time figurin' out what goes between them two lentil burgers. I'll leave that to yer imaginashun 'cause that's the fun part o' cookin'. That's right, usin' yer imaginashun gits yer mind a-turnin' an' you'll be surprised ta see what excitin' sandwich fixin's comes of it.

Well, darlin's, y'all be sure 'n let me know how yer family likes this new kinda sandwich.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Imagine a lusciously seductive sandwich with boldly flavored lentil burgers standing in for the bread. Limit the fillings somewhat so the lentil burgers will stay firm. Fillings can be as familiar as lettuce, tomato, and onions with mustard and veggie mayo or as diverse as roasted peppers and onions, sliced avocados, thick, roasted eggplant slices, roasted zucchini or Mexican squashes, steamed sweet potato slices, caramelized onions, or sautéed mushrooms or any combination of these.

Before piling on the fillings, slather the burgers with your favorite condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, Russian dressing, Dijon mustard, Vegenaise, or a sauce of your own invention. Be sure to serve these burgers with plenty of napkins--this is one darned good, delicious, dripping mess to die for!

If you would like to enjoy the lentil burger in a regular sandwich, slather it with plenty of condiments and your favorite sandwich trimmings.

Whoppin' Big Lentil Burgers


Yield: 12 burger patties, or 6 servings

    3 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
    3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided
    1 cup brown lentils

    1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
    1 small carrot, finely minced
    3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
    1/3 cup diced onions
    2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  1. Have ready 2 large jellyroll pans lined with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a 4 or 5-quart saucepan, combine 3 cups of the water, 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and the lentils. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils are softened but still retain their shape.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, combine the walnuts, carrots, rolled oats, onions, 3 tablespoons of the remaining water, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the remaining soy sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  4. Add the cooked lentils to the bowl, along with any liquid remaining in the pan, and mix thoroughly to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Transfer half the mixture to the food processor and pulse several times to form a slightly chunky puree. Return the mixture to the bowl and mix well.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup water with the flaxseed meal in the blender and process until it becomes a thick, gooey slurry. Add the slurry to the lentil mixture and mix well to distribute it throughout the mixture.
  6. Using a heaping tablespoon of the lentil mixture, form into a large ball about 2 inches in diameter. Place the ball onto the parchment and flatten into a thin patty about 3 inches in diameter and 3/8-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining mixture forming 12 thin patties. Bake for 25 minutes, carefully turn with a metal spatula and bake for 8 minutes longer. The patties will feel very firm and dry on the outside.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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