Whether you’re a vegivore, vegetarian, or vegan, there are a few appliances that make vegetable prep a breeze.
First, you’ll need knives. I reccommend J.A. Henckels knives, because they are very high-quality and affordable. I use only a paring knife, a chef’s knife, and a bread knife. I don’t really find many other knives to be very essential for plant-based cooking, but then, I half-ass things a lot with my blender and kitchen shears.
Before I got my Ninja Pulse, I had a Magic Bullet. Although it looks like a TV scam, it’s actually a wonderful product, and I do recommend it. Like the Pulse, it comes with travel-sized small containers as well as a large blender-sized container for big jobs. It works great for just about everything, and I used mine pretty hard until finally after a few years I somehow bent the blades.
I replaced my Magic Bullet with a Ninja Pulse, which is an amazing blender and much more durable. It works with everything and I use it as both a blender and a food processor. It is supposed to work as a mixer for cookie dough, but it totally doesn’t, and I have dark-chocolate stained walls as a result. The other downside to the Pulse is that you have to hold down the travel cup or the blender lid in order for the machine to run– it has no buttons. Apparently, that seemed like a practical time-saving idea to someone, although I think it’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard of, ever. The Magic Bullet had a feature where you could twist the cup or blender to the left and it would lock in place, leaving your hands free for other prep work. Overall though, the product works extremely well, and will last a long time. When it does go out, though, I will probably replace it with the regular Ninja which does have buttons, a Vitamix, or a Blendtec.
If you’re into salads, you’ll want a mandolin slicer (and a chain mail glove to protect your hands… I cut myself every time I use mine!!) The Chef’s Envy Slicer is a good value with several different sized attachments for slicing. It’s never going to be as good as a Saladmaster Machine, but it does what it’s supposed to with minimal effort and cleanup. Don’t even bother with a Presto Salad Shooter— they don’t work AT ALL. (I have one, and if you’re not convinced, I’ll let you try mine out. It’s a Presto POS.) I’m interested in the Benriner Spiraler for clever salads and veggie noodles, but I haven’t coughed up the money yet, and with a kitchen smaller than my desk at work, space is limited.
If you like eating raw, then a dehydrator is a must-have. You can also dehydrate your own fruit rolls, veggie chips, dried fruit, and make tofu jerky. I highly recommend Nesco products-– they work well and are very affordable.
I recently purchased an Emson Big Boss Juicer through Groupon, but I have not received it yet, so I can’t personally comment on it’s effectiveness. It got good reviews, and it’s also a decent product for the price. Breville makes a very nice one, but it’s way out of my price range.
A slow-cooker is a great option for faux meats and stews, as it seals in flavors and creates softness.
I’ll always be partial to Kitchen-Aid mixers, probably because I spent most of my childhood stealing cookie dough out of my grandmother’s, and my teen years experimenting with cakes and pies in my mother’s. I haven’t really heard of a rival product– these babies work seriously well and they last decades.
Another great product is a tofu press, which squeezes out all the water from tofu, enabling it to hold its shape better in various recipes.
Of course, you’ll want to invest in some good cookware. Avoid teflon if at all possible, and invest in products that are eco-friendly and maintain nutritional content of foods. Saladmaster is a good option if you’ve got the money and the time.