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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.



RECESSION GRUB:
THREE MONEY-SAVING BREAD SALADS
With Two Special Dressings

Twenty-Eighth in a series of articles

BY AUNT NETTIE


Howdy there Darlin's,

Well, now, t'other day I set ta thinkin' 'bout what fixin's I could make with my leftover bread that I done baked up 'bout 6 days ago. That bread was gittin' mighty dry, but y'all knows by now that I'm a mighty thrifty person and weren't about ta chuck that bread in the garbage. No siree, not me!

Then I remembered that deeelicious Italian Bread Salad Recipe I shared with y'all. That's what set me wonderin' 'bout what sorta fixin's other folks make in fer-away countries when they's got dried up bread on hand. I was purty shure they didn't let that bread go ta waste, neither. Like me, lots o' folks is watchin' them pennies all the time, 'specially now when I kin see them food prices goin' up 'n' up all the time.

I like ta read 'bout recipes all the time, I do, so I got ta fixin' on givin' y'all some bread salad recipes from 'round the world, since they's purfect fer this fierce-hot summer we're havin'.

Besides recipes fer a fine Italian bread salad, I done learnt 'bout Lebanese, Australian, an' Mexican bread salads. Why, I came near ta kickin' up my heels when readin' 'bout 'em 'cause bread salads kin save folks money while puttin' healthy fixin's on the table.

Now I knows it won't surprise anyone that I like cookin' so much I'm always makin' up my own recipes. Down yonder on the page, y'all kin find some mighty fine an' tasty recipes fer usin' up yer stale bread and eatin' healthy salads with plenty o' good fer ya vegetables.

Y'all knows that a salad without dressin' ain't worth a hoot, so don't go frettin' 'bout what ta put on them fine bread salads. Ole Aunt Nettie don't leave the groom at the church without no bride! Sure as the Lord made l'il apples, there's two kinds o' my salad dressin's fer yer speshul bread salad. If'n yer watchin' the calories, why jes go fixin' the Dilly Herb Dressin' 'cause without the salad oil, why you kin have a dressin' with hardly any calories at all! Now, if'n them 120 calories fer every tablespoon of oil is no concern o' yers, then kick up yer heels with the Lemon Oregano Dressin'.

I surely do hopes y'all have some good summer pleasure with them mighty fine bread salads.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie


Bread Salad

Salads are welcome any time of year, but summer is when cooling salads are most appreciated for their brilliant colors, crunchy textures, and fresh flavors. Here are three international bread salads and two dressings that provide ways to use stale bread and combine it with a healthy dose of fresh vegetables.

LEBANESE FATOUSH SALAD

Yield: 4 servings

    1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
    1 15-ounce can (425g) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
    1 green or yellow bell pepper, chopped
    3 Persian cucumbers, chopped
    1/4 bunch fresh mint, chopped
    1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced

    2 whole-wheat pita breads, torn into bite size pieces

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumbers, mint and parsley and toss well.
  2. Arrange the torn pita bread around the edge of the bowl, forming a border. To serve, toss all together with the Lemon Oregano Dressing.

Note:
If the pita bread is very dry, briefly moisten it by pouring water over and immediately draining it. Squeeze out any excess water. The bread should be moist, not soggy.



AUSTRALIAN BREAD SALAD

Yield: 4 servings

    4 pieces stale whole wheat bread, broken into pieces

    1 head cauliflower, chopped and cooked
    1 cup frozen peas, thawed
    1/2 pound ((225g) firm tofu, crumbled
    2 beets, chopped and cooked
    1 small sweet onion, sliced lengthwise into half moons

    1 recipe Lemon Oregano Dressing

  1. Place the bread pieces into a medium bowl. Moisten the bread briefly by pouring water over and immediately draining it. Squeeze out any excess liquid. The bread should be moist but not soggy. Transfer the bread to a salad bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together with the Lemon Oregano Dressing.



MEXICAN TORTILLA SALAD

Yield: 6 servings

    1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
    1 15-ounce (225g) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    1 15-ounce (225g) can corn kernels, drained
    1 6-ounce (170g) can black olives, well drained
    2 large tomatoes, chopped
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    1 4-ounce (115g) can diced green chiles, drained

    4 fresh corn tortillas, torn into bite size pieces or baked tortilla chips broken into pieces

    1 recipe Lemon Oregano Dressing

    Vegan Sour Cream

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, beans, olives, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and green chiles.
  2. Add the tortillas and toss together with the Lemon Oregano Dressing. Serve Vegan Sour Cream on the side so each person can spoon a dollop over the salad.



LEMON OREGANO DRESSING

Yield: 1 1/3 cups (320 ml)

    1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola or extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon maple syrup
    1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in the blender and process until thoroughly blended. Use a funnel to pour the dressing into a narrow-neck bottle for easier serving. Serve immediately or chill and serve later.
  2. Stored in the refrigerator the dressing will keep well for two weeks. Shake well before using.

Note:
If you use the extra virgin olive oil, remove the dressing from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving to bring the olive oil to room temperature.



DILLY HERB DRESSING

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

    1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine vinegar
    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
    2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash's Original Blend seasoning
    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped or 3/4 teaspoon dried
    1/2-inch (1 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
    2 large sprigs chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried
    2 sprigs basil, leaves only or 1/2 teaspoon dried
    2 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves only
    2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    1/4 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum

  1. Combine all the ingredients in the blender and start machine on low speed for a few seconds. Switch to high speed and process for a full minute, or until well blended, smooth, and creamy.
  2. Using a funnel, pour the dressing into a narrow neck bottle for easy serving and serve immediately or chill and serve later. Refrigerated, the dressing keeps well for up to 1 week.



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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