The Veggie Table: Favorite Kitchen Tools for a Vegetarian or Vegan Kitchen

by in The Veggie Table, January 21, 2013

ninja cooking system
Step into my kitchen and you’ll see I’m a sucker for collecting kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and gizmos to help make cooking easier. Unfortunately, I’m running out of cabinet and counter space for all these appliances! But fortunately for you I’ve been able to sort through them to come up with my favorites for a veg-friendly kitchen.

Vitamix – It may come as no surprise that the Vitamix is top on my list. I know the price is steep, but since the day I bought it over two years ago, I have used my beloved Vitamix every single day, making it well worth every cent. The primary use in my kitchen is for smoothies, but I also use it to make creamy nut butters, buttery-smooth hummus, quick soups, sauces, and even a vegan cashew “cheesecake” that was nearly effortless to make thanks to the high-speed Vitamix. I find other blenders don’t compare (and I’ve used other high-end blenders) when it comes to super-smooth blending and ice crushing in a matter of seconds.

TofuXpress – When I finally learned how to prepare tofu correctly, I realized so much of it had to do with the water content. I find the dryer the tofu, the easier it bakes, grills, holds together, and soaks up sauce and flavor. Before I discovered the TofuXpress, I was pressing moisture out of my tofu with some rigged up balancing act of plates, pots and pans in my kitchen sink. Now, all I have to do is place the block of tofu in my TofuXpress, press it down with the lid, and the TofuXpress slowly presses out excess water into its container, which you drain off before working with the tofu.

Rice Cooker – I consider myself a pretty decent cook, but for some reason, I cannot make rice. I always manage to burn the bottom, or have the pot sputter and boil over. Since I love rice with my beans, veggie stir-fry, and more, I invested in an inexpensive rice cooker that even has a brown rice setting. But the greatest benefit is that it cooks more than rice! I’ve made batches of fruit and nut oatmeal to last a whole week, creamy risotto, and a variety of whole grain dishes including wheatberry salad, kale and farro salad, and quinoa for “pizza muffins.” Ever since I got my rice cooker, I’ve been eating a greater variety of whole grains, and I’m burning fewer pots!

Slow Cooker – I always assumed slow cookers were only necessary for cooking big batches of meaty stew or pulled pork. And, I always assumed I didn’t need a slow cooker when my trusty rice cooker made 1-pot grain dishes so easily. Boy was I wrong! This fall was busier than ever and I’m so grateful I was able to toss a bunch of ingredients like beans, diced tomatoes and onions into my new Ninja slow cooker (above) and hours later dinner was waiting for me. Although I have yet to try it, I hear slow cookers can easily cook dry beans, which means no more canned beans for me!

Herb scissors – My mom picked up a pair of herb-cutting scissors for me while traveling in Scandinavia, but fortunately you don’t have to travel nearly as far for your own pair. While chopping fresh herbs is not the most time consuming task, a few snips with these scissors means you can evenly chop your herbs in a matter of seconds. And nothing beats the flavor of fresh herbs in a homemade vegetarian dish.

TELL US: What kitchen tools or appliances can’t you live without?

Janel Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel.  Catch up on her previous posts here.

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