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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.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Eightieth in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Well, I ain't never ever traveled the world at all--always kept my two feet on the ground right here in the good ole USA. But that don't mean I never traveled the world in my own kitchen!! No siree! Why I love discoverin' the world with some mighty different fruits or veggies or fixin's what come in bottles an' jars that come from fur-away places. I'm talking 'bout fixin's that come half-way round the world an' land up here.

Now, I'm a mighty lucky woman 'cause sometimes I have friends that come a-visitin' with curious packages, bottles, an' jars o' fixin's I never seen before. There they were--- a jar o' preserved lemons an' a spice jar o' ground sumac. I thought what in 'tarnation am I gonna do with them!!! Lordy!!!!!

After the visitin' was over, first thing I did was open up them jars an' taste 'em--that's how curious I was. My, oh my! They was burstin' with lemony flavor, they was! An' I was scratchin' my head ta figger our what I was gonna do with 'em.

Didn't take long, it didn't, an' I done some cuttin' an' choppin' an'mixin' an' purty soon I had some speshul salad fixin's that matched up with the sorta countries them preserved lemons an' sumac powder come from!

Well, I'm not the sort that goes 'round braggin' 'bout my fixin's--well, I don't--but I must say that Mediterranean Chickpea Salad come out mighty fine. Now if'n ya cain't find them speshul goodies, why, jes grate up the rind of a nice fresh lemon an' add some of the lemon juice 'til ya likes the flavor.

I surely hopes y'all enjoy yer l'il bit o' kitchen travelin' as much as I did.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Hearty salads are the old standby for light summer meals when no one wants to heat up the kitchen with an ambitious cooking project. Count on this tasty salad that needs only a sharp knife, a pile of veggies, and a willing home chef to assemble this salad guaranteed to delight the family or a gathering of guests who've come to visit.

Countries that border the Mediterranean share the many common ingredients and seasonings that comprise this exceptional salad. For best results, prepare the salad the day before you plan to serve it and chill it thoroughly. The key is giving this little gem of a salad enough time to allow the unique flavors of preserved lemon, Kalamata olives, olive oil, and the herbs to permeate throughout the salad. This flavor blend is what makes the dish stand apart from other chickpea salads.

While Kalamata olives are easy to find in most grocery stores, ground sumac and a jar of preserved lemon, familiar Moroccan ingredients, may require a trip to a Middle Eastern market. Preserved lemon can be ordered on Amazon.com

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    2 cans (14-ounce/396g) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    1 purple onion, halved and cut thinly into half moons
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    1 large bunch parsley, chopped
    1 bunch mint, chopped
    1/2 fresh anise bulb, finely chopped

    1/4 cup (60 ml) pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons minced preserved lemon (optional)
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons ground sumac
    1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the drained chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, parsley, mint, and anise and mix well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and use a large spoon or salad tongs to continue mixing to combine all the ingredients evenly.
  3. Cover the bowl and chill overnight. Next day, toss well and transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl.

If preserved lemons are not available, substitute the finely minced zest of 1 lemon.

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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