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12 Things to Make With Your Blender (Besides Smoothies)
Meet your new favorite lunch dish: a salad with kale, carrots and radishes, all chopped in the blender to slash prep time. Ffrench found the key to chopping the vegetables was adding ample water to the blender—and then draining them thoroughly.
Chopped Kale Salad (serves 4–6)
For the salad
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
6 radishes, cut in half
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 3 heaping tablespoons)
For the dressing
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 avocado, pitted and peeled
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Put kale in blender and add 4 cups water. Pulse 8 to 10 times with short, quick pulses. Drain and put in a large salad bowl lined with paper towels.
2. Add carrots and radishes to blender and fill with enough water to cover. Pulse several times until chopped, drain and add to salad bowl.
3. To make the dressing: Place garlic in blender and pulse several times. Add remaining ingredients, except olive oil. Process on high for 30 seconds. Add oil and blend until thoroughly mixed.
4. Remove paper towel from bottom of bowl and toss salad with dressing and pine nuts. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Toss and serve.
The homemade version of everyone's favorite diet no-no is way healthier (you only need two tablespoons of sugar to sweeten a whole batch) and incredibly simple to make. Ffrench's recipe is a little nuttier than most, which is what makes it so addictive.
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (makes about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons mild oil, such as aroma-free coconut or canola, plus more for rubbing the sides
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes. Let cool for several minutes. Lay a dishtowel out on the counter and spread out the hazelnuts. Lay another dishtowel on top and rub the nuts between the two towels to remove skins.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and let cool.
3. Rub the inside of blender jar generously with oil. Add hazelnuts and process on low for 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium. Scrape down sides and run on low for 2 minutes. Add oil and run on low another 2 minutes. Scrape down sides again and continue running until nuts form a paste (about 8 minutes total). Add the rest of the ingredients except the melted chocolate and process for another minute or until creamy smooth.
4. Finally, add the melted chocolate and blend again until a spreadable consistency is reached. If the mixture became warm while processing in your blender, it will thicken up slightly as it cools.
Cooking burgers in a skillet becomes something to look forward to with Ffrench's salmon patties. Rather than mix together the ingredients in a bowl, Ffrench tosses them all in the blender, where they create a chunky mixture in seconds.
Salmon Burgers (serves 4)
For the burgers
1 pound skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cut into large chunks
3 ounces smoked salmon
1 large egg
3/4 cup watercress
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. To make the burgers, place all ingredients except the oil in the blender and pulse four to five times until just combined. The mixture should be chunky.
2. Form mixture into four patties and place on waxed paper.
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully slide patties into heated skillet and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until heated through. Serve on buns.
This technique of simmering vegetables in broth until they're nearly falling apart, then pureeing them in a blender works well with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes. "The Blender Girl" Tess Masters' guilt-free—and totally brilliant—way to add a creamy texture without cream? Blending the cooked vegetables with 1/4 cup cashews.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup (serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic, plus more to taste
2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only, from 2 or 3 leeks)
1 head cauliflower, chopped
7 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews or 1/4 cup blanched slivered raw almonds, soaked
3 tablespoons chopped chives or a grating of nutmeg (optional; choose one, not both), to garnish
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and saute garlic, leeks, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until the vegetables are soft, for 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and saute 1 more minute. Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 30 minutes, until cauliflower is completely tender. Stir periodically and mash the cauliflower with a wooden spoon.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly; stir in the nuts. Pour the soup into your blender in batches and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. (Remember to remove the plastic cap in the blender top and cover the opening with a kitchen towel so steam can escape while you blend.) Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Stir in salt to taste. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with either chopped chives or grated nutmeg.
If you're a fan of smashed avocado on toast, you'll love this green alternative. Masters blends a mix of edamame, baby spinach, tahini, onion, and garlic for an addictive, hearty spread for toast, sandwiches, or wraps—or a dip for crudités and crackers.
Edamame Dip (makes 2 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups shelled raw edamame beans
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow or white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Throw the oil, edamame, spinach, lemon juice, tahini, onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt into your blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides periodically. Tweak flavors to taste. (You may like more lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, or salt.) Serve topped with sesame seeds and parsley.
Masters' delicious stroganoff is a rich, velvety, and vegan (!) sauce for pasta. With a creamy texture from protein-rich tofu and umami flavors from 'shrooms and soy sauce, you'll love this blender meal.
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff (serves 4)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
6 cups sliced white button and cremini mushrooms
2 cups vegetable broth
12 ounces firm silken tofu or firm regular tofu
12 ounces gluten-free or regular fettuccini or spaghetti
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more to garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, for garnish
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and saute onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Reduce heat to low and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Throw in garlic and mushrooms and saute about 15 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Put 1 cup vegetable broth and tofu into blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Add about 1 cup of the mushroom mixture. Pulse a few times to break them up. You want a speckled, grainy consistency, not a puree.
3. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente; drain and return to pot.
4. Meanwhile, pour blended mixture into saucepan and stir in tamari, thyme, and pepper. Bring mixture just to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often, about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Increase the heat to high and add 1/2 cup remaining broth. Bring sauce just to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and simmer about 10 minutes, until reduced by half. Increase heat to high again and add remaining broth. Bring sauce just to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes more, until creamy. Add pasta to the mushroom sauce. Add parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve family-style in a big bowl garnished with the chives and parsley.
Don't ever think to eat brown rice for breakfast? You'll want to reconsider this winter with Masters' rice pudding. She blends coconut milk and warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg) with cooked brown rice, then simmer that mixture on the stovetop with apples, raisins, and almond milk. You can enjoy this warm, at room temp or chilled.
Chai Rice Pudding (serves 6 to 8)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons water
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 cup canned coconut milk (shake, then pour)
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of natural salt
3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (soft but not mushy)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (strained if homemade)
Chopped raw pistachios, for serving
1. In a saucepan over high heat, bring 1/4 cup maple syrup and water to a boil. As soon as the mixture bubbles, reduce heat to medium-low and stir in apples. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize and soften slightly.
2. While the apples are cooking, put coconut milk, remaining 3 tablespoons maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, spices, and salt into your blender and blast on medium-high about 10 seconds, until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups rice and process on medium-low for a few seconds, until creamy. (The pudding will be goopy if you overblend.) Add blended mixture and raisins to cooked apples and stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup almond milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups cooked rice. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup almond milk and simmer 5 minutes more.
3. Serve warm, at room temperature, or even chilled; add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup milk if you serve it chilled, to soften it up. Sprinkle with pistachios.
Raw Chocolate–Orange Torte
If you really want to go all out with your blender's ability, this torte is for you. Masters proves even raw chocolate desserts have a place at any dinner party with this rich cocoa powder–coconut oil–orange juice mixture.
Raw Chocolate–Orange Torte (makes 20 satisfying slivers, 10 to 12 addict-size slabs)
For the crust
1 cup raw whole almonds
1/2 cup firmly packed chopped pitted dates, plus more as needed
1/4 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
For the filling
1 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/2 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
Pinch of natural salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Shaved vegan chocolate, to garnish (optional)
Finely grated orange zest, to garnish (optional)
1. To make the crust, grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with coconut oil. Put almonds, dates, and cacao powder into your food processor and process until well combined and the mixture forms a dough. Form the dough into a ball; if the dough doesn't hold together, you may need to add more dates and process again. Press dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.
2. To make the filling, put all of the ingredients into your blender in the order listed and blend 2 to 3 minutes, until rich and creamy. To achieve the smoothest filling, stop the machine periodically and scrape down the sides of the container. Pour filling into the crust. Cover with aluminum foil and freeze for 8 hours.
3. To serve, transfer pan from freezer to fridge at least 1 1/2 hours before serving. After torte defrosts in fridge for 30 minutes, slice with a very sharp knife. Keeping the slices together, return the torte to the fridge to defrost at least an hour before serving.
The easiest way to make a pureed salsa (read: not pico de gallo) at home? Pour the contents in a blender and pulse on high until everything is combined. You can play with the flavors, but start with a cup of cherry tomatoes and go from there. Add red or white onion, jalapeño, lime juice, garlic, scallion, cilantro, mango, pineapple, or bell pepper. Be sure to season with salt and pepper.
Sure, you can whisk together a vinaigrette in seconds simply using a jar, but what about when you want to make a creamy dressing using, say, avocado? Head to the blender for this easy-to-make staple: Blend together an avocado, a clove of garlic, a handful of basil, and the juice of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
With more baking recipes calling for almond meal and oat and spelt flour, you can see what they're all about without splurging on a pantry makeover by simply blending up almonds, old-fashioned rolled oats, and spelt berries. Grind on high until the mixture is fine. Store in an airtight container.
Recipes reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl, by Tess Masters, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
If you're not on the DIY nut milk train yet, it's time. The simplicity and superior flavor to the store-bought kind will make you a convert. The hardest part of the whole process is remembering to soak the almonds in water overnight. The next morning, you have fresh almond milk in minutes. Rebecca Miller Ffrench, author of the newly released The Ultimate Blender Cookbook, shares her three-ingredient recipe:
Almond Milk (makes about 3 cups)
1 cup almonds, soaked for 8 hours, then drained with water discarded
3 cups springwater or filtered tap water
Sweetener to taste, if desired
Place nuts and water in blender jar and process on high until combined and completely smooth. Add sweetener if desired. Strain the mixture using a nut bag or strainer. Discard the pulp. Chill and serve.