Are you one of those folks that hoards kitchen gadgets? Every time something new comes out, you’re ordering it from Amazon? I used to work in a restaurant supply store and was surrounded by gadgets, kitchen equipment and the people who use them every day. You’d think that my kitchen was full of gadgets right? Actually, quite the opposite. I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to what I use to cook with. I have what I need, and more importantly what fits in my small apartment kitchen.
The Recipe Redux challenged it’s group this month to create a recipe around a tried-and-trued kitchen tool. My favorite tool is a chef ‘s knife, but that’s not very exciting. That’s kind of like when someone posts a 3-Ingredient recipe, but doesn’t include the salt and pepper in the list of 3 ingredients because those are standards in pretty much all dishes. A chef’s knife is as standard as salt and pepper.
One of my favorite simple tools is my rasp grater to finely and most importantly, easily, finely zest citrus. You may know that tool more commonly as a Microplane, but that’s actually a brand name and not the name of the tool itself. I’ve had mine for the past 20 years and am surprised to run into folks who’ve never heard of it. Citrus zest is such a great way to add brightness to a dish, without it being too lemony. The rasp grater isn’t just for lemons though. I love using lime, orange and even grapefruit zest with veggies, main dishes, soups, fruit salads and even desserts.
Not only will you get a punch of flavor from the often discarded zest, but you’ll also get a healthy dose of antioxidants, particularly a category of polyphenols called flavonoids. These compounds are know for health benefits such as being anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and even anti-tumor. Research with the potent tangerine peel is showing protective neuro anti-inflammatory benefits (hello, brain health!), but researchers haven’t quite pinpointed which particular compound is responsible. They suspect that the synergistic properties of many compounds working together are at play here. Stay tuned for more research on this topic! (1)
My green beans with gremolata will convert non-green bean eaters to lovers of the veggie! Or so I’ve been told by green bean haters! Gremolata is an Italian condiment of minced garlic, parsley and lemon zest. You can add it to pretty much everything, including soups, meats, fish, and even pasta. Ideally, you’ll want to use organic, unwaxed citrus for zesting, but if you can’t afford organic, be sure to roughly scrub the outside of the fruit.
Besides the Chef’s knife and zester, here are my other top kitchen tool necessities:
~10″ saute pan – this is a good standard size pan, unless you have a really big family. Then you may want a bigger pan.
~ Half size sheet pan (18″ x 13″). A quarter size sheet pan comes in handy too for smaller jobs (9″ x 13″). Sheet pans are great for a range of functions such as roasting veggies and meats and baking cookies.
~Silicone baking mat to line the sheet pan with. They’re non stick and you won’t have to scrub the sheet pan!! Dishwasher safe too!
~Cutting board or cutting mat – because you don’t want to cut on a plate or the kitchen counter!
~Blender and/or food processor – you can make so many things in these small appliances such as dips, sauces, smoothies, nut butters, and much more! A necessity in my opinion.
~Silicone rubber spatulas, tongs, wire whisk, and peeler
~Small spiralizer – I make vegetable “noodles” multiple times per week. If you’re trying to cut carbs and eat more veggies, they’re a great addition to your diet. This inexpensive gadget looks like a large pencil sharpener and is a great alternative to the large spiralizers.
I LOVE this veggie side dish because it's bursting with flavor! If you don't have time, you can skip the blanching step and move straight to sauteeing, but it will take about 8 minutes to saute. However, I like the texture and flavor better when the beans are blanched and then quickly sauteed just to heat through. If you're cooking for company, blanch the beans first because the beans will retain their bright green color. You can even do that step the day before serving.
- 2 lemons, zested
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (or mashed)
- 1 pound fresh green beans, stem end snapped off
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste if needed)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Combine the zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl.
- Prepare a large bowl of cold water and ice.
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add the green beans and blanch for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Immediately drain beans and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain green beans.
- At this point, you can refrigerate the green beans if you wish to cook later. Blanching will help them stay bright green.
- When ready to serve green beans, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot add the green beans and saute for 2 minutes, or until green beans are heated through. Add the salt. Beans should still have a nice crunch.
- Remove from heat and add the lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. Toss to combine well.
- If you are not blanching the beans first, saute them for about 8 minutes, or until they've reached your desired level of crunchiness.