The Benefits of Being a Blend-Thrift
There are two questions that I’m frequently asked when someone discovers that I’m a chef. First, everyone wants to know my favorite thing to cook or eat. (Buffalo wings!) Coming in a close second is curiosity about the kitchen tool that I simply can’t live without.
For a long time, I didn’t have to think twice: I couldn’t live without my tarnished but sharp-as-hell carbon steel French chef’s knife that I purchased soon after graduating from culinary school in the late ’90s.
But that answer has changed.
My focus has transitioned from the perfect—but inherently wasteful—julienne to a cuisine that treads far more lightly on the planet. Now my trusty blender is my lifeline to a less wasteful and more creative kitchen.
There’s nothing that my blender can’t handle. Random leftovers? Overripe fruit? Wilted herbs? Expired dairy? My blender turns the persistent problem of a refrigerator full of scraps or surplus into a world of gastronomic opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong: That pint of strawberries withering in the back corner of the refrigerator is a problem that needs attention. So is the bunch of arugula you probably should have eaten a week ago. But when a smoothie or a pesto is a viable, nutritious, and damn tasty solution, those cosmetic deficiencies mean absolutely nothing and your fridge and pantry start to take on a whole new flavor.
I’ve come to believe that the blender is the ultimate culinary weapon in the war against wasted food. So keep that blender plugged in, and purée, soup, sauce, and smoothie your way to a deliciously thrifty kitchen that would make your great-grandmother proud.
Recipe: Anything Green Pesto
5 cups tightly packed wilted greens or herbs (basil, arugula, spinach, radish tops, parsley, etc.)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup nuts or seeds (pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds)
1 small clove garlic, smashed
1½ cups neutral vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Blanch the greens for 30 seconds. Strain, then plunge into a bowl of iced water to chill. Remove the greens from the ice bath and squeeze as much water out of them as possible. Place into the blender with the remaining ingredients and purée until smooth. Season with a little salt.
Adam Kaye is co-founder and chief culinary director of The Spare Food Co., former chief culinary officer of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone