What I've Learned So Far
Having the right tools and knowing which ones to use can make all the difference between a satisfying success or a disappointing failure. If you’ve ever tried to hammer a nail into a wall using your stapler, fix broken jewelry with your teeth, or tighten a loose screw with a nail file or butter knife, you know what I mean. Buying good, high quality tools for your kitchen – and then taking care of them – is critical to enjoying success when making meals.
One of the most important investments you can make if you want to prepare great vegetarian food is a good set of knives. You need to keep them sharp, so you want something you can sharpen easily. Believe it or not, super sharp knives are less dangerous than dull ones. When a knife blade gets dull, you have to use more pressure and the blade slips off the surface of the food easily. Of course, if you have really sharp knives you do need to handle them carefully, particularly when washing them. Don’t try to rush through cutting up your vegetables – it’s astonishing how quickly and easily you can seriously cut yourself.
Once you have a good set of knives it’s imperative you get a sharpener and a good cutting board. You don’t want glass, plastic or other materials, because they’ll dull your knives. You want something that won’t slip around on the counter while you’re cutting, and if you get a nice wood board be sure to buy the right kind of oil to keep it from drying out. You might have heard that wood cutting boards are bad because of bacteria, but if you’re a vegetarian you don’t need to worry about bacterial cross contamination because you’re not cutting up any raw meat.
To get started, I recommend an 8” chef knife and a paring knife. I personally like Henkel knives, but there’s a lot of good brands out there. I also have a large, heavy teak cutting board for larger fruits and vegetables, and a smaller teak board for quick jobs like slicing up lemons. Like most tools, good knives and cutting boards aren’t cheap but they’re well worth the investment. Be sure to do some research, read some reviews, and think about how you’ll be using them and what makes the most sense for your kitchen. These will (hopefully) be tools you’ll be using for many years, so take your time and build a tool set for your kitchen that you’ll be happy to use.
• If you want a fancier presentation, you can put the quinoa on a plate, top with the vegetables, and then pour the sauce over the dish.
• You can roast frozen vegetables in a pinch – just take them out of the freezer and prepare as if they were fresh. Broccoli works pretty well, but the squash will get mushy. It will taste the same, it’s just that the texture will be different.
• You can use prepared lemon juice if you don’t have fresh lemon.
• Try using different varieties of quinoa, or even a different grain for different textures and flavors.