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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 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 an/or get her cooking advice, .

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.


Fifty-ninth in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Don't know 'bout you, but I'm jes lovin' this nice warm summer weather, though I must say that sometimes it do git a tad too hot fer spendin' much time in the garden. Most days I waits 'till the end o' the day when the heat's more tolerable. That's mostly when I likes ta putter 'round in the vegetable patch.

The other day, while I was plantin' a few radishes, I begun thinkin' how nice it would be ta cook up a heap o' vegetable fixin's with pasta an' a heap o' good flavor.

I thought if I kin make it mighty deeeelicious, why lots o' folks might jes start eatin' more vegetables, jes like they oughter. I know, I know, there's lotsa folks don't hardly eat them green veggies at all ever, so I got ta thinkin' it's mighty important fer me ta make more fixin's jes piled ta the rafters with vegetables.

I guess I was mighty lucky. I growed up in a family that always planted a vegetable garden durin' the cool months o' the year. We started plantin' in the spring, soon's the ground was right, an' we kept that garden a-goin' 'till the chill come along in autumn.

An' durin' the plantin' season, why we growed more'n we could eat so we canned jes 'bout everything we growed. We was eatin' plenty o' vegetables the whole winter long. Them folks what didn't grow up with vegetables on the table ever' day, why they sometimes fret 'bout eatin' 'em as grown-ups. I think with a tad o' patience, why they'll learn ta git along with vegetables--that's what, 'cause they's so good fer ya. Now y'all tell me how ya likes this mighty nice an' purty pasta dish--and it won't rob yer wallet neither.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Basil Buttered Pasta with Caramelized Onions


Yield: about 4 servings

    Caramelized onions
    2 large red onions, sliced, slices cut in half
    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce

    Vegetable medley
    6 cups (12 ounces/340g) shredded cabbage
    8 ounces (226g) snap peas, julienne cut
    1 yellow summer squash, julienne cut about 1/2-inch long
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    3 large cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

    1/2 pound (226g) cooked bow tie, curly, or penne pasta or 3 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa

    1 recipe Summer Basil Butter

    Vegan Parmesan

  1. TO MAKE THE CARAMELIZED ONIONS, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Gas Mark 5) and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Pile the sliced onions into a heap on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the onions with a spatula and heap them into the center. Roast 20 minutes longer. Turn them again, spreading them out. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce and toss well. Roast the onions for another 10 minutes, or until they are very tender.
  3. TO MAKE THE VEGETABLE MEDLEY, combine the cabbage, snap peas, bell pepper, garlic, and olive oil in a large deep skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the caramelized onions and cooked pasta and toss well. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  5. Top each serving of Basil Buttered Pasta with a generous spoonful of Summer Basil Butter and sprinkle with vegan Parmesan. Bring extra Parmesan to the table.

Summer Basil Butter

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups (600 ml)

    3 cups (720 ml) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
    2 cups (240 ml) chopped zucchini
    1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts
    2 tablespoons white miso
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
    1 clove garlic
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all the basil butter ingredients in a food processor and process to form a smooth, thick, and creamy butter.

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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