|baked sweet potato fries, curried cauliflower, & sautéed tofu w/ spiced vegan mayo dipping sauce|
A year ago I finally broke down and bought a Cusinart stick blender, the best $30 I've spent on a new item in a long time. I'd waited so long because I already own a standing blender (a parental gift years ago), a vintage 1980's Cuisinart-knockoff K-Mart food processor (a gift from my friend Jeff that works better than the newer Black & Decker food processor I bought in college and have since passed along to Goodwill), and a small mini-prep food processor that was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. That's already a lot of electrical-blade equipment for someone who doesn't like excess stuff. But immersion blenders are perfect for what they do.
For example, I love creamy vegetable soups but hate the inevitable mess made during the transfer between hot soup pot and blender container. The blender may leak around its seal, soup splashes and drips, the blended soup then has to be dumped into a third bowl—you get the picture. But with a wand blender, there's no mess. And cleaning the wand itself is easy, even without a dishwasher, especially if you're rinsing and washing up right after use. I had often seen older, used stick blenders at thrift stores but always passed on them because the blade end didn't come off like the new ones do, a feature I recommend. (If you're blessed by the Secondhand Fairy like Jeff seems to be, you, too, might be able to find a like-new, all-stainless steel Cuisinart stick blender at Salvation Army for $4. But that would take real luck, and it didn't happen to me.)
My stick blender didn't see much use last winter because I was a little afraid of it. But no more. To make up for lost time, I've been whipping things up this fall—a curried butternut squash soup with coconut milk and cilantro and a spiced vegan mayonnaise I've been using as both dip for roasted vegetables and sauce to flavor legume, grain, and vegetable stews.
If you are the type who prefers Miracle Whip (ugh) to Best Foods/Hellmann's, you won't like this sauce because it's garlicky and lemony rather than sweet. But that's why it's good.
The first version I made with unsweetened soy milk because that's what I had on hand, which makes a thin, runny sauce. In the second version I used silken tofu, and the consistency is creamy. (I'm eating non-GMO soy, Carol, promise.) I didn't use nearly the amount of oil called for in the recipe and added paprika for a spicier flavor and color. I also didn't measure any of the ingredients, just used half a lemon, a few garlic cloves, the whole tub of soft tofu, several glugs of the oil (the first time with safflower, the second time with extra-virgin olive), a big dollop of Dijon mustard, a heavy dash of paprika, and salt to taste. It whips up quickly in a wide-mouth quart Kerr jar and the consistency holds up well for about a week, stored in the fridge.
At work the other day, after I'd heated up my lunch (lentil-barley stew with vegan mayo sauce), one of my coworkers said from around the corner, "Mmm, that smells good, smells like pasta."
"No, it's a lentil stew with vegan mayo. The secret is silken tofu."
"Eww. I'd never eat that."
"Trust me, you can't taste the tofu."
"Well, maybe I'll have to try it sometime."