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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. Since 2009 Aunt Nettie has known people were struggling to stretch their dollars during the recession. So she focused her tasty recipes on low-cost ingredients that would still offer delicious, healthy, stick-to-the-ribs foods, yet were affordable.

With the economy improving and more people back at work, Aunt Nettie felt the time was right to ease up a bit on strict bargain-bin shopping and gussy up the menu with a few small splurges.

Aunt Nettie is still happy to answer questions that come her way, but what she loves most is offering seasonal fixin's that inspire her while shopping at the farm stand.

Howdy there darlin's,

Well darlin's, I done figured that since the holidays is a-comin' purty soon, I better put together some mighty fancy fixin's that's fittin' fer a fine celebration. So I done took myself ta the grocery where I come across a package o' somethin' called endive. Never saw it before but thought I might could bring it inter my kitchen an' see jes what it tastes like.

Ta be purfectly honest, it was a tad too bitter ta be deeeeelicious all by itself, but thought them purty little leaves was jes right fer fillin' with my deeeeelicious smoky garlic spread. Then I gussied it up jes a tad with green peas and some roasted strips o' red bell pepper.

Well, I tell ya true, they come out lookin' like they was fine enough fer a visit from Santa Claus--or lookin' like they was a decoration that could hang from a Christmas tree! An' the garlic spread jes up an took away the bitter taste from the endive. Honest ta goodness, it was purfectly deeeeelicious!

So you kin see, I'm bustin' my buttons but don't git me wrong--I'm not showin' off--jes kickin' up my heels--I'm jes feelin' so tickled 'cause them little endive leaves look so dern purty.

But you be the judge--I think yer gonna love this perky little appetizer. Now you'll let me know, won't ya. I would really like ta know what ya think about 'em.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Whether you're planning a large holiday party or a small, intimate dinner, you'll love this easy-to-prepare appetizer for its good looks and tasty seasonings. Dressed in festive colors, this flavorful smoky, bold, and garlicky mixture makes endive a delicious two-bite treat that can be prepared a day ahead. The filling is versatile enough to become stuffing for raw button mushrooms, celery, and mini bell peppers.

Smoky Garlic Stuffed Endive


Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) filling for about 40 endive leaves

    5 to 6 heads endive

    1 pound (453g) extra firm tofu
    3 to 4 cloves garlic
    4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    3 tablespoon water
    2 1/2 teaspoons natural hickory seasoning (also called liquid smoke)
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    2 green onions, minced

    1 (15-ounce/424g) jar roasted red peppers, cut into thin julienne, or 2 to 3 fresh red peppers, roasted and cut into thin julienne
    3/4 cup (280 ml) frozen green peas, thawed
    Paprika (optional)

  1. Separate the endive leaves and set them aside on a dish. To make the filling, rinse the tofu and drain it well. Break the tofu into several chunks, and put them in the food processor.
  2. Add the garlic, lemon juice, water, hickory seasoning, dill weed, salt, and pepper and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the green onion.
  3. To assemble, fill each leaf with the smoky garlic mixture. Garnish each endive with a strip of red pepper and 3 green peas. Sprinkle the tops with paprika, if desired.
  4. Store the leftover filling in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 1 week.

Note: This zesty garlic spread is also terrific mashed into baked potatoes! Enjoy it any time of year!

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with megabytes 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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