“I’ve been cooking more and making big salads. Should I get one of those small electric choppers or just stick with a damn knife?” — DAVE J., DETROIT, MI
If you like saving time and you’re a gadget guy, then go for an electric chopper (aka mini food processor). Of course, like any gizmo, choppers have their limitations, so sometimes using a knife works better. We asked Jennifer White of jenniferskitchen.com to break it all down for us.
An electric chopper’s great for:
— Chopping firm vegetables (carrots, onions, peppers) or fruit—if you don’t care how pretty or uniformly sized they end up. Tip: Cut them into smaller chunks first, then pulse (instead of chop) a few times—you’ll get more even pieces, not big hunks and tiny shards.
— Chopping nuts.
— Mincing garlic, parsley, celery, onions.
— Slicing firm fruits and veggies (“anything that isn’t so soft it’ll get mushy”) if your chopper has a slicing blade and shredding cheese if it has a shredding blade.
— Whipping up a fast dip, spread, salsa, or pesto.
A knife may be better for:
— Making a picturesque garden or fruit salad with nice, big, uniform-size pieces.
— Cutting lettuce: “Most varieties don’t fare well in a chopper.”
— Dicing: “If you want anything uniformly diced, get out the knife.”
— Cutting too-soft veggies or fruit.
— Impressing your girlfriend with your banzai knife moves. “Take a public knife-skill class at a culinary school,” says Brooke Alpert, R.D., of b-nutritious.com. “It can be a fun date, as most classes serve beer.”