Yesterday, I offered some tips on making awesome homemade almond milk. I mentioned that the recipe works best with a Vita-Mix, but that there are various tricks (soaking almonds well beforehand, using lecithin) that will help you churn out perfect batches of nut milk without the fancy equipment.
This was aptly timed advice. One of my new CR goals is to make more and more of my recipes accessible to those who don’t have the means to invest in expensive kitchen appliances. I was inspired, in part, by this email from a loyal reader:
I am getting ready to go to college where I will be lucky enough to have a vegan/vegetarian dinning hall to eat at. However, my boyfriend and I really like to make vegan and raw meals together. I am looking to buy some equipment to bring with me to college so that we can make recipes on weekends. However, I recently looked at the price of a Vitamix and was slightly horrified. College is way to expensive as it is!
How can I purchase the equipment necessary to make the raw vegan food that I love, without investing obscene amounts of money that I cant afford to be spending?
I’m guessing these sentiments resemble those of many young readers, and I sympathize: I had very little money to invest in kitchen tools when I graduated, and it’s taken me years to build up a bastion of useful appliances. I wrote back:
You really only need a food processor, a salad spinner, a good knife, and a blender, in my opinion. Vitamixes are great, but definitely not mandatory. You can find a cheap blender, salad spinner, and knife set on eBay. And a processor will let you make nut pates, hummus, salad dressings, and some soups. It’s about 150$, but it’s the single most worthy piece of kitchen equipment you can own, whether you’re a vegan, omni, or whatever! I highly recommend seeing it as an investment in your career as a chef 🙂
In keeping with this email, I thought this weekend would be a good time to cut the frills from one of my more appliance-heavy recipes. As you know, I very often make guacamole with my juice pulp on weekends. It’s most fun to use green juice pulp (mostly for the color) but I also love using carrot pulp for the sweetness! Sometimes I add ginger, at which point the guac/spread begins to resemble my carrot miso dressing, which typically calls for a Vitamix. Naturally, anyone who hasn’t got a juicer will have a hard time making the former recipe, and anyone without a Vita will have a hard time with the latter (though grating the carrots beforehand will make it happen in a normal blender).
So the idea today was to come up with a carrot guac recipe that resembled my typical green guac, but didn’t call for a juicer. I decided to use the single appliance I think everyone, regardless of their eating habits, should have: a food processor. Cheaper than a high speed blender, food processors are instrumental to making perfect homemade hummus, nut pate, bread (if you have a dough hook attachment), and banana soft serve. They can be used in many of the same ways blenders can (ie, they’re great for salad dressing and soups), and they can also stand in for a mandolin, making grating a cinch. Bottom line? Though food processors, like any other appliance, aren’t necessary to enjoy raw and vegan food, they’ll make your life a lot easier. Take this five minute recipe, for instance:
Dilly Carrot Avocado Spread (serves 1)
1 small carrot
1/8 tsp sea salt
5-6 sprigs fresh dill
Juice of 1 lime
Using the grater attachment in a food processor, grate the small carrot. Switch attachments to the machine’s S blad, and add the avocado, salt, dill, and lime juice. Blend till smooth and even — you may need to stop a few times to scrape the bowl down. You’re done!
If you don’t have a processor, no problem! Just grate the carrot by hand, add the avocado, and mash. It’ll take a little more time, but you’ll have equally tasty results.
You see? Simple raw dips and spreads don’t demand too two or three horsepower contraptions. With basic kitchen tools and simple tastes, you have all you need to enjoy vegan and raw foods.
Here’s the dip in action:
Hope you’re all enjoying good weekends. I’m off to see Red tonight — very excited!