If you take a look around my kitchen you won’t see a lot of clutter – I try to keep the counters free of appliances, even though my husband insists our cornflower blue Kitchen Aid stand mixer would look marvelous on the island. However, as I get more creative with my recipe development and making better-for-you recipe makeovers, I can’t keep the drawers and pantry as neat and organized as I would like – there are just too many gadgets and tools that take recipes to the next level. With all the gift-giving holidays quickly approaching, if you or your loved ones like to cook, now is a great time to find out which kitchen tools are the most useful and worth having no matter how much storage space you have in your kitchen. And seeing as how we focus on salads here at Fresh Express, we thought it would be most appropriate to share our favorites for making nutritious and delicious salads and dressings that will keep you coming back for more.
Measuring Spoons and Cups
No kitchen is complete without a full set of measuring spoons and two sets of measuring cups – one with handles and spouts for measuring liquids and the other for measuring dry ingredients that can be leveled off. Although most sets of measuring spoons have the standard measurements, which include ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon, I prefer the sets that include the 1/8 teaspoon and ½ tablespoon measurements. The 1/8 teaspoon is especially helpful when measuring salt for salad dressings.
Take a stroll through the kitchen department of any home goods store and you will be overwhelmed by the assortment of cooking utensils for sale. Some are not really necessary unless you would use them often. For example, unless you frequently cook delicate filets of fish, a fish spatula will take up valuable space in your kitchen. On the other hand, there are some utensils that are a must, especially for salads: namely a vegetable peeler and a whisk.
This may not seem like an essential kitchen tool, but wait until you see what an impact it has on your cooking! You can use it to grate cheese on your pasta, grate chocolate for decorative shavings on a dessert plate, or grate ginger and garlic for use in stir-fries and sauces. But my all-time favorite use of a microplane, especially when it comes to salad, is to zest citrus fruits, which add amazing flavor to salad dressings and marinades like the Lemon Vinaigrette in this salad.
You can use the tines of a fork or your own hands to squeeze juice out of lemons, limes, and oranges, but if you want to get the most juice from your fruit and keep the pits out, a handheld juicer is the way to go. And don’t underestimate the value of freshly squeezed juice for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces – lots of flavor with fewer calories and no fat or sodium. Give it a try yourself when making the Southwest Citrus Chicken Salad.
Mini Food Processor
A full sized food processor will take up a lot of counter or cabinet space, but unless you’re making big batches of pesto, pureed soups and sauces, or ground meat, a mini processor will suffice. When it comes to salads, mini processors are a great way to emulsify salad dressings, chop nuts for garnish, make your own breadcrumbs for meat and fish coatings, or make sauces like pesto, which can be used in recipes like this Penne with Arugula Pesto.
By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express
The Fresh Express Salad Swap helps you recreate the flavors of your favorite higher-calorie foods in lower-calorie salads. Discover the free app with delicious recipes and money saving coupons at www.saladswap.com/