10 Must-Have Gadgets That’ll Help You Make the Most Out of Summer Vegetables

published Jul 15, 2021
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pizza on a pizza platter unlsiced
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Summer is my favorite time of year for many reasons — mostly because of the food, and especially because of all the in-season vegetables. Sweet corn, crunchy cucumbers, crisp leafy greens, and juicy tomatoes (let’s not get into the vegetable vs. fruit debate!): I want them all.

With such bounty comes an incredible amount of dishes you can make, like the ultimate summer pizza, creamy zucchini fettuccine, and grilled gnocchi with summer squash and burst tomatoes. And let’s not forget how good a lot these veggies are just sliced and eaten with a little something extra (looking you, tomato sandwiches and cucumber slices with cheddar cheese!)

As much as I want to eat all of these things, I don’t want to spend all my time making them. I want to have my snack and be on my way. The key to efficiency here? Having the right tools for the job. Here are the 10 gadgets that’ll help you make the most of your summer veggies — quickly and efficiently.

1. A Good Knife and Cutting Board

Now, these might seem obvious, but they’re, without a doubt, the most important items. A good, sharp chef’s knife and sturdy cutting board will help you with most prep tasks. These include slicing corn off the cob, halving cherry tomatoes, cutting zucchini into coins, quartering beets for roasting, and more.

2. A Spiralizer

If zucchini noodles (zoodles!) are on the docket for summer, you’re going to need a spiralizer. This handheld model won my recent testing and is perfect for making long, twirling strands of zucchini. If you’re interested in spiralizing tougher vegetables, like beets, get this model instead.

3. A Peeler

For potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers, you’re going to need a great peeler. And lucky for all of us, the best one only costs $7. It cuts through the toughest of produce skins like butter and stays super sharp over time.

4. A Salad Spinner

I told myself a salad spinner was an unnecessary, cabinet space-hogging gadget for years. But then I got one. And it’s absolutely worth the investment in terms of cash and storage space. This model from OXO wicks lettuce dry in a flash. It has a removable colander for rinsing greens, a one-handed pump, and a button that easily stops the spinner.

5. A Food Processor

For shredding zucchini (zucchini bread!), making beet hummus, or turning cauliflower into rice, you need a food processor. This model from Cuisinart earned top marks in my extensive testing.

6. A Grater

If you lack the storage space or budget for a food processor (or don’t love the idea of having to wash a food processor bowl), but still want to do some serious shredding, get a grater. I particularly like this grater, which has non-slip feet and, unlike a box grater, can fit in a drawer for easy storage.

7. A Corn Stripper

I am a fan of the Bundt pan trick for removing corn from the cob, but you might find a corn stripper helpful. This one beat out nine other models during testing and was hands-down the easiest to use. It glides down cobs, releasing whole corn kernels in its wake.

8. An Air Fryer

If you, like me, avoid turning your oven on as much as possible during the summer, an air fryer will be your best friend. Whether it’s fries to go along with a burger or an air-fried veggie side, this model will crisp and cook without heating up your entire kitchen.

9. A Bread Knife

For slicing a tomato or halving a BLT, you need a great bread knife. This affordable model is one of my favorites: It’s sharp, comfortable to hold, and will slice without squishing.

10. Stainless Steel Skewers

Vegetable kebabs are the perfect summer side. Stainless steel skewers are affordable, require no soaking (unlike wooden ones) prior to use, and are reusable. Get ’em!

What kitchen tools help you make the most out of summer produce? Let us know in the comments!