The One Tool That Will Cut Your Cooking Time in Half
Whenever anyone asks me what kitchen gadget I can’t live without, I immediately reply, “My food processor.” It’s been my favorite electronic kitchen tool for years, and I use it to make all sorts of dishes, from sauces to smoothies. However, the reason the food processor is a culinary MVP is its ability to cut prep time in half. If you’re smart about how you use your food processor, you can be more efficient in the kitchen. Keep reading to learn seven ways to use the processor to cut down your time in the kitchen.
A food processor can be used to whip ingredients as well. Add heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract, then blitz to make whipped cream. The thing that is great about the food processor is you can turn it on and don’t have to stand over it. Let the cream process for a bit, while you plate your apple pie. Whip and season creamy cheeses, like goat and feta, in the food processor and serve with toasted bread and dried fruit for a tasty snack.
Most processors come with a grating tool that speedily grates cheese. Thus, the next time you’re making macaroni and cheese or lasagna or grilled cheese sandwiches for a crowd, use the food processor to grate the cheese. Sure, you could purchase pre-grated cheese, but grating it yourself means you can control the quality of the cheese you use. Homemade macaroni and cheese is so much more delicious when made with aged cheddar, nutty gruyère, and melty fontina versus a store-bought white cheese blend. Since cheese can become soft, stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to harden it up before you plan to grate it in the processor.
Remember the tool I mentioned for grating cheese? It can be used to shred vegetables. Shred cabbage and radicchio to make a colorful slaw. Shred carrots to use in a decadent carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Shred potatoes to make potato pancakes or hash browns. Shred Brussels sprouts to toss in a crunchy salad.
Although it doesn’t blend as well as a powerful blender like the Vitamix, my food processor does a pretty good job of puréeing fruits and vegetables. Make a speedy fruit sauce for ice cream by puréeing ripe berries with a little sugar and water. Turn an avocado into a creamy dip by puréeing it until smooth in the food processor.
One of the things I love about the food processor is that you can dump a bunch of random ingredients into it, then mix them all up to create something scrumptious. Toss roasted almonds, basil, mint, feta cheese, garlic, and olive oil into the bowl. Blitz to make a fresh take on pesto. Throw in softened butter, red pepper, parsley, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese. Process together to make a flavorful butter to put on grilled oysters. Combine anchovies with garlic, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, and olive oil, then mix to make homemade Caesar salad dressing. Food processor pie dough is the only kind of dough that I make: Simply place flour, salt, and frozen butter in the processor. Pulse until it’s combined, then add a little cold water. Pulse some more and you’ll end up with wonderfully flaky pie dough.
You can’t use the food processor to hide something, but you can use it to finely chop spinach, then add this hearty ingredient to dishes without your diners noticing. When I’m cooking for kids, I’ll throw a bunch of spinach into the processor then stir it into meatballs, fish cake patties, and marinara sauce. The kids (or picky adult eaters) won’t know that they are enjoying a serving of spinach with their turkey burgers. Even when I’m making a pizza, I’ll sprinkle a layer of chopped spinach on top of the dough before I cover it with tomato sauce. The food processor allows you to chop a bunch of spinach quickly.
Any time a dish calls for more than two different kinds of chopped vegetables (say a soup that has a base of onions, garlic, carrots, and celery), break out the food processor and let it do the work for you. Dice a carrot with the push of a button in the amount of time it takes you to peel it! Here’s my technique: Peel or wash the vegetable. Slice into 1 1/2–inch chunks. Toss into the food processor; be sure not to overcrowd the processor. If you’re cutting up a lot of vegetables, you will have to do this part in several batches. Pulse the vegetables, taking care not to purée them. You want them chopped, not liquefied. When the veggies are all a uniform-size dice, transfer to a bowl or sauté pan. If you end up with super-big chunks of vegetable, this means that you overfilled the food processor.
Shop a few great food processor options below.
KitchenAid Food Processor Attachment With Commercial Style Dicing Kit ($180)