My Favorite Summer Kitchen Tool? I know it sounds like a sales pitch, but I think of it more as a great tip from a friendly neighbor 😉 I’m so passionate about this vegetable chopper, and I’ll show you why.
So many of my favorite recipes on the blog depend on my alligator chopper for their success (hello Cowboy Caviar).
And while I use it all year long, it really gets a workout in the summer months, so I thought it was a good time to share my secret weapon with you. Plus, it gives me a chance to show off some of my best seasonal recipes 🙂
The Alligator vegetable chopper is the tool I use almost every day in the summer
This is the one I love, it’s made of steel, with steel blades, and it works perfectly. Trust me, I’ve gone through the plastic versions and they don’t hold up; the plastic just isn’t durable or strong enough. I’ve used the steel model for years and yet I still get excited every time I take it out of the cupboard. It’s fun!!
By the way, if you’ve got kids or grandkids around this summer get them involved in the kitchen, this tool is easy enough for them to use and can help show them how to eat healthier.
The variety of foods I chop with this tool
- vegetables like carrots, zucchini, peppers, etc.
- cheese, soft and hard
- dense lettuce like endive, radicchio, iceberg, cabbage, or gem
- some meat like deli chicken or turkey breast, ham, hard sausage
- I’ve even diced bread for making mini croutons
The problem with chopped salads
Chopped salads are a favorite of ours, I’ve loved them since I was a kid. All the ingredients are cut into small, even pieces and the result is not only pretty, but a pleasure to eat. Add some protein and a fabulous dressing and you’ve got an amazing summer meal. Only thing is…all that chopping! It can be exhausting, and very hard to do it evenly.
In my Chopped Chef Salad, above, and my Chopped Greek Salad, below, I used the larger grid (the tool comes with 3 grid sizes.) to chop everything, including tomatoes, feta cheese, cukes, red onions, and artichokes. Having all the ingredients chopped to the same size gives the salad a professional look, and makes it so much easier to eat than a classic Greek salad.
For my restaurant style salsa, below, I used the chopper’s smaller grid to get everything nice and tiny.
I like this technique so much better than making salsa in a blender, because you can still see all the wonderful ingredients, and it gives it great texture.
I use the Alligator chopper for just about all my salsas, whether they’re fine or chunky.
As any salsa lover knows, they can be a lot of work if you try to do it all by hand, and often you’ll crush delicate ingredients. The chopper doesn’t smash or bruise delicate fruits and veggies, so I can use it with tomatoes or berries, like in the strawberry jalapeño salsa, below. I’ve even used it with ripe peaches to make one of my favorite summer meals, grilled chicken with peach salsa.
One theme that runs through my summer meals is serving fish with some kind of fruit salsa. I serve my spicy fruit salsa over salmon in July and August when so many amazing fruits are in season ~ it’s one of my personal favorite recipes on the blog, just fyi. I do cherry salsa on whitefish, and kiwi on salmon, too.
If you read this blog you know I love my bean salads
and I definitely make use of the chopper in these recipes because I want any supporting ingredients to be approximately the same size as the beans, like in my rainbow bean salad, below. Sometimes it might just be colorful peppers and red onions, but it makes such a difference, not only to the look of the salad, but for the eating experience, as well.
It’s not summer here at tvfgi without several different gazpacho recipes
The chopper’s small size grid works perfectly for the onions, peppers and cukes in a classic gazpacho. And when I’m ready to serve I’ve got the perfect garnish.
One of the surprising ways I use my Alligator chopper is with tomatoes.
I adore bruschetta, but chopping soft tomatoes by hand is a challenge, and a mess. The chopper actually comes with a plastic ‘bin’ that collects the food and any stray juices. It’s genius.
If you love hot peppers like I do you’ll appreciate being able to perfectly dice jalapeños etc without ever touching them. I can make batch after batch of rosé wine hot pepper jelly without any issues.
And lest you think this is all about fruits and veggies
I also use this chopper for chicken salad! I wasn’t sure that was going to work, but as you can see in my chicken salad with poppyseed dressing, below, it does. You can also use it for ham, bacon, etc.
And last but not least, the chopper makes pretty amazing fruit salads. You can chop hard fruits like apples, or soft ones like watermelon. It’s a lifesaver with a mixed fruit salad like my fruit salad with coconut dressing.
Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, I’ll answer 🙂