Of all the camp kitchen essentials, the grater is one of the last tools I would want to leave behind at home when I go on a paddling trip. It rates high on my top 10 list, right after the coffee maker. This may sound silly, but throughout the years I have come to use the humble grater so often in so many different recipes that I have now a collection of more than 10, with differing blade widths. But for my kayak trips, I limit the choice to three. I love to use a very fine grater for hard parmesan cheese, to puree garlic and ginger or to transform a block of extra-firm tofu into a delicious spread. To prepare my favorite vegetable salads, such as beet, parsnip, carrot or broccoli, celery, apple and nuts I prefer a medium blade grater. And finally, for chocolate or potato crepes, zucchini bread and vegetable soup, I will choose a grater that has a large blade, which adds more texture and crunch to the preparation.
Of course, anyone uses this light, inexpensive tool to grate cheese. But the possibilities are endless: you can also prepare excellent slaws in no time, muffins, colorful fruit and vegetable salads, potato latkes, onion soup (without the tears), slice garlic and ginger or fix a filling stir fry very quickly. With a grater, you can create delicious apple compote or cobbler and cut chocolate for an easy fondue without using a knife. The grater will save you time during the meal preparation as well as during the cooking process, which also saves precious fuel. Like me, you can choose to carry three different graters or go for one that offers interchangeable blades. I also appreciate graters that are attached to a small bowl, which eliminates the need to use a cutting board and reduces the mess.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes made entirely with the precious help of a grater. Enjoy!
No tears onion and dry sausage soup (2 portions)
With a medium grater, grate the onion, the shallots and the garlic. Sauté in olive oil over medium heat until onions are slightly browned and soft. Thinly slice the dry sausage and add to the onion mixture. Add beef broth, beer, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. In two large bowls, pour a ladle of soup. Add the cracker, then half the cheese in each bowl. Pour the rest of the soup to melt the cheese.
Turnip, cabbage and carrot slaw (4 portions)
With a medium blade grater, grate the vegetables in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the brown sugar with the vinegar, the mustard, dry herbs, salt and pepper. Add olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whipping constantly to emulsify. Pour onto the grated vegetables. Toss well. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes to allow vegetable flavors to blend.
Zuchini-potato and salmon croquettes (2 portions)
In a bowl, grate potatoes and onions with the smallest blade of your grater. Change the blade to the largest and grate the zucchini. Press well with your hands to extract water from the vegetables. Discard water. Add salmon, beaten egg, flour, two tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is dry enough to be formed into croquettes. Add salt, pepper and dill. Mix well and form small croquettes with your hands. In a pan, fry the croquettes in a bit of hot oil over medium heat for about five minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and brown the other side.
Quick vegetable soup (4 portions)
Grate all vegetables with a large blade grater and put in a large pot. Add broth, tomato juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a bowl over medium-high heat. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes and serve.
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