Kitchen Gadgets I Wouldn’t Want to be Without #2: The Stick Blender

The simple stick blender is a gadget I use almost every day. In the last two days, it’s been used to make smoothies, blend a roux into chicken broth to thicken a stew, and transform left-over roast vegetable salsa into pasta sauce.

I often don’t use electric appliances – I own a hand-held mixer, but usually I mix cake or cookie or muffin doughs by hand, with a solid dinner fork. I might as well use a few more calories up before I eat what I’ve baked! But blending is a different thing.

My sister gave us a traditional blender as a house-warming present the year BD and I moved in together – 1979 – and we still have it. BD uses it to make hummus weekly, and I use it occasionally, but the stick blender has replaced it for most uses. It’s just simpler, and easier to clean.

I’m on my second one. The first one I bought was bottom-of-the-line, inexpensive, since I wasn’t sure how much use it would get. Eventually it burned out – but not immediately – so I bought a better one. Two in fifteen years isn’t too bad!

Here’s how I transformed the salsa to pasta sauce – I’ll start with the salsa recipe, full of local, seasonal vegetables bought at the farmers’ market on its last day for this year.

Roasted Vegetable Salsa

2 red peppers

2 small eggplants (about 3 inches each)

1 medium zucchini

6-12 garlic cloves, depending on how much you like garlic

1 small onion

10-12 grape/cherry tomatoes, preferably roma type

1 cup finely diced butternut squash

1/2 c olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

rosemary

basil

oregano

sea salt

black pepper

1/2 c feta cheese

Preparation

Peppers: seed and dice finely

Eggplant: peel and dice finely

Zucchini: dice finely

Garlic: peel and dice finely

Onion: peel and dice finely

Tomatoes: dice finely

Squash: peel and dice finely

Toss diced vegetables with olive oil and spices and spread on parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Roast at 360 degrees F for 30 minutes. (A higher temperature than this destroys much of the goodness of olive oil.)

Add 1 Tbsp each of dried rosemary, basil, oregano, and 1 Tbsp sea salt, and 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, plus the 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste and add more olive oil if desired. Let sit at room temperature to blend flavours.

Just before serving, add 1/2 c feta cheese. Serve with crostini.

This makes about 3 cups. I had just over a cup left over.

To make pasta sauce:

Add 1 c chicken or vegetable broth, preferably low sodium as there is a fair bit of salt in the salsa. Bring to a boil gently. Cool somewhat, and blend in the saucepan with a stick blender.

This gives you a creamy, tangy pasta sauce. Use as a vegetarian sauce with more cheese if desired, or, add ground chicken, turkey or whatever you like.

Now, those of you who follow this blog know that BD is allergic to all dairy. So I actually made two versions of this, one with feta and one without, and did this sauce twice: both worked well, but I would definitely add ground turkey or spicy turkey sausage to the dairy-free version for protein.

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