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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, .

Dear Aunt Nettie,

I'm desperate for a good lunch suggestion. I did a silly thing and invited someone for lunch who always makes fun of my vegan philosophy and constantly poo-poo's the things I bring to work for my lunch. You can see my predicament! I need something that that will blow him away.



Howdy there Patricia,

You darlin', I been itchin' fer a opportunity jes like this. I do have some fixin's I know yer gonna love, an' that silly friend o' yers is gonna be eatin' crow--an' plenty of it--jes you see. Now ya oughter plan on doin' a tiny bit o' preparin' the night before, an' you'll see how quick this open-faced sangwich comes together.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Pistachio Kalamata Cheese Melt


This open-faced sandwich featuring pistachios and kalamata olives is ideal for breakfast or brunch when served with fruit or a tossed salad. The filling offers much diversity and makes a great-tasting topping for bread, toast, or crackers, a pungent topping for baked potatoes, a robust sandwich spread, or the perfect filling for a layered vegetable torte. With imagination you may come up with a dozen other treatments for it.

Pistachio Kalamata Cheese Melt is one of the delicious recipes in Zel Allen's cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

1 pound (450g) extra firm tofu
1/2 cup (120 ml) pistachios

18 pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped


4 slices whole grain bread
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 to 8 slices vegan mozzarella cheese

  1. To make the filling, break the tofu into chunks and put them into the food processor. Grind the pistachios into a fine meal in several batches in an electric mini-chopper/grinder or coffee grinder. Add to the tofu in the food processor along with the olives, lime juice, and garlic. Process until all the ingredients are well blended, stopping the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the workbowl.
  2. To assemble the sandwiches, spread a generous layer of the filling over one side of each of the bread slices. Top with tomato slices, covering the entire surface. Then lay the vegan mozzarella cheese over the top, covering the whole surface.
  3. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and broil them 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat source for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Watch carefully to avoid burning the cheese. Serve with a knife and fork.

Note: If you cannot locate pitted kalamata olives, use a paring knife to cut the olive flesh from the pit. Regular black olives could be substituted, but they don't have the robust flavor of the kalamatas.

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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