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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.


Sixty-seventh in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Well here 'tis--the month o' May. An' y'all know how they calls it the merry month o' May. Well, it surely is with a heap o' purty flowers poppin' up in the garden ever'where an' plenty o' sunshine lightin' up the day. My, oh my, it does surely put a smile on my face an' makes me wanna kick up these mighty old heels 'cause somethin' speshul happened.

I'm a mighty lucky person ta have friends like I do. Why jes t'other day a very speshul friend brought me the biggest bunch o' Swiss chard I ever laid eyes on. Oh my, it was one o' them kind with bright red stems and them leaves was standin' tall an' lookin' so fresh I almost wanted ta put the whole bunch in a vase.

Well, I didn't, 'cause I had a better idea. I turned them chard leaves inter a mighty deeeelicious spaghetti sauce. It was so fine I thought y'all jes might like the recipe, so's y'all kin make it, too.

Now, don't let them fresh greens like chard scare y'all away! It's easy as pie, this recipe, an' I'd bet my bloomers y'all gonna love it, too. That is if'n y'all like spaghetti. Nice thing is that chard is mighty good fer ya 'cause them dark green leaves an' bright stems tells ya right away they's full o' antioxidants like beta carotene an even lutein ta keep y'all healthy.

That chard is full o' vitamin A that's good fer the eyes an' even vitamin K fer the bones. That's why it's important ta eat 'em all the time. Nice thing, too, that chard has lots o' other vitamins an' hardly any calories. You kin eat lots of it an' ya won't git fat. Now ain't that nice.

I surely do hope y'all enjoy yer nice dinner.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Here's a pasta sauce that comes together quickly and takes advantage of one of the tastiest and most versatile fresh spring greens in the garden. Swiss chard can be lightly steamed and served as a side dish or chopped into a salad. But here, those big leafy greens turn magically into a tasty sauce that's perfect for any pasta or over grains like brown rice, barley, buckwheat, or quinoa. If there are any leftovers, the sauce hangs onto its flavor and even tastes great the next day, too.

Chickpea Chard Pasta Sauce


Yield: 4 to 5 servings

    1 large purple onion, sliced into half-moons
    1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil

    4 cloves garlic, finely minced

    3/4 pound (340g) Swiss chard, stems cut off and chopped separately from leaves
    Zest of 1 lemon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    Pinch crushed red pepper

    1 (15-ounce/425g) can garbanzo beans, with liquid
    4 Roma tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
    1 small yellow summer squash or zucchini, chopped

    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    3 tablespoons water

    Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Put the onion and olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add the chard stems, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and crushed pepper to the skillet, stirring for 1 minute. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the stems are soft, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and squash. Cook uncovered for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the squash and chard is soft. Adjust the heat as needed.
  4. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir into a runny paste. Add the paste a little at a time to the gently bubbling sauce, and stir for 1 minute until thickened to desired consistency.
  5. Add the lemon juice and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

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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