Good Question: Can My Food Processor Do More?

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Dear Kitchen,

My food processor is great for making pesto, but what else can I use it for? I feel like I am not getting enough out of this tool. I used it once to make gazpacho and I ended up with an uneven vegetable sludge.

Can you share some tips?

JV

JV,

Thanks for sending in a question. Holiday season gets so busy in the kitchen. This is a great time to think about smart short-cuts.

If you have a Cusinart brand food processor, it likely came with three blades -- shredding, slicing and the standard S-shaped dough blade. When I first got my food processor, I was in a hurry to chop up onions for a large batch of tomato sauce. I peeled and cored the onions and put them in with the dough blade. What came out was a watery "sludge" similar to what you mention in your question.

Since I didn't have any more onions or much time, I put these onions into my sauce. This first attempt at using a food processor short cut brought out the worst in the onions. They turned fibrous, almost gluey, and gave my sauce a terrible mouth feel.

After that disaster, I experimented by food processing an onion with each of my Cusinart's blades. Take your processor through the paces and see what it can do for you.

With some practice, my food processor has become indispensable. The shredding blade works for coleslaw, while I turn to the slicer for great thin even slices of carrots for a soup or sausage for an appetizer tray. I use the pastry blade for pastry and for spinach artichoke dip. The clementine cake we posted yesterday is another fun food processor recipe. Unfortunately, the food processor won't replace knife work when you're looking for perfect cubes of vegetables.

I often make meatloaf in the food processor. I use it to chop up the onions, garlic, and carrots. I add the ground meat (thought I hear I could also use the processor to chop the meat) and then bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. It's all made, all in the food processor bowl.

Check out this thread on Chowhound for more on that meatloaf recipe and a through debate on the pros and cons of using a food processor.

I'm wondering if most Kitchen readers have food processors and, if you do, how often do you use it? Do you have more tips for JV?

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