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a bowl of vegan queso and salsa verde surrounded by chips

The blender is not just for smoothies: It’s a useful tool for breaking things down in soups, sauces, salsas, and so much more. And because blenders can chop, grind, and mince, you can spend less time laboring over your cutting board and more time enjoying nutritious meals.

High-speed blenders, once mostly used in professional kitchens, are a popular option for home cooks these days. Their powerful motors are built for liquefying even tough ingredients, like fibrous kale stems and sticky dates. They can also make smoothies and juices from whole fruits and veggies with the flip of a switch.

If you’re using a high-speed blender, it’s important to control the speed carefully: Always start on low and then increase slowly to high. If your blender has a tamper, use it to push the food around while the motor is running to help achieve the desired texture.

You can use a regular blender to make any of these recipes — just be prepared to stop and scrape down the sides of the pitcher as needed to keep things moving. Happy blending!

Spanish Salsa Verde

This fresh green sauce is perfect over fish or chicken, tossed with rice or pasta, or as a topping for eggs.

salsa verde

Makes about 1 ¼ cups •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red- or white-wine vinegar
  • 4 large anchovies, drained, or 2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh parsley
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint
  • 2 tbs. drained capers
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Secure the lid and purée until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. 

Vegan Nacho Queso

You can keep soaking the cashews in the refrigerator for up to four days; if you don’t get around to making this dip right away, they won’t go bad.

vegan nacho queso

Makes about 2 ½ cups •  Prep time 6 hours (soaking), plus 15 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • Cold water
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbs. red miso
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 6 tbs. arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  1. Place the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover; let soak at room temperature for six hours. Drain well.

  2. Place the drained cashews, almond milk, oil, miso, lime juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, arrowroot, salt, and turmeric in a blender. Blend on medium-low speed until smooth, then increase the speed to high and blend for four minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Add the jalapeños and pulse to incorporate.

  3. Warm gently on the stovetop if desired, or transfer the queso to a bowl and serve immediately.

Aquafaba Mayo

Aquafaba, which is the liquid in which dried beans are cooked, is a common vegan egg replacement. Here, it’s used along with Dijon mustard, paprika, turmeric, and more to make a flavorful mayonnaise-like spread.

toast with aquafaba mayo veggies

Makes about ¾ cup •  Prep time 8 hours or overnight (soaking) •  Cook time 40 minutes

  • 2 tbs. dried chickpeas
  • 1½ cups water, divided
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ⅛ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Place the chickpeas in a small bowl and add ½ cup water. Let soak overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place the chickpeas and the remaining water in a blender and secure the lid. Blend on high speed until smooth, then scrape the chickpea purée into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes to cook the beans (the mixture will thicken slightly).
  3. Scrape the chickpea mixture into a measuring cup and, if necessary, add enough cold water to make ½ cup. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the chickpea mixture to a blender and add the mustard, lemon juice, sugar, salt, paprika, and turmeric. Secure the lid and blend until mixed, stopping to scrape down the pitcher as necessary.
  5. Remove the lid plug, then continue blending on low speed while very slowly pouring the oil through the lid opening. Purée until smooth.
  6. Transfer the mayo to a jar and refrigerate for at least two hours, until set to a firmer texture, or for up to one week.

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing With Basil

Try making this dressing with lemon juice instead of vinegar, or with other fresh herbs, such as mint or cilantro.

green goddess salad and dressing

Makes about 1 cup •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 tbs. white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a blender. Add the vinegar, garlic, basil, parsley, and salt. Secure the lid and blend until smooth.
  2. Remove the lid plug, then continue blending on low speed while very slowly pouring the oil through the lid opening. Purée until smooth.
  3. Transfer the dressing to a jar and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Mixed Berry Sorbet

If the sorbet isn’t as thick as you like, either transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for an hour or keep blending and gradually add ice cubes to achieve the desired texture.

glasses filled with mixed berry sorbet

Makes  7 servings •  Prep time 5 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple juice
  • ¼ cup liquid (raw) honey
  • 1 lb. frozen mixed berries
  1. Place the apple juice, honey, and berries in a blender. Secure the lid and blend until smooth and thick.
  2. Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to one week.
  3. Let frozen sorbet soften in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving if it’s hard to scoop.

Root Veggie Baby Food

glass bowls of homemade babyfood

Makes  2 cups •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 35-40 minutes

Pick one:

  • 2 cups chopped peeled carrots
  • 2 cups chopped peeled parsnips
  • 3 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped peeled turnips
  • 2 cups chopped peeled beets
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the root vegetables and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and boil gently for 15 to 20 minutes (25 minutes for beets), or until the vegetables are very soft and falling apart.
  3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer vegetables and cooking liquid to a blender. Remove the lid plug, secure the lid, and cover the opening with a clean kitchen towel. Blend on low speed until very smooth. If the purée is too thick, add water a little bit at a time and blend to the desired consistency.
  5. Let cool and serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Tip: For longer storage, transfer the mixture to ice cube trays or a lined muffin pan in appropriate portions and freeze until solid. Once the portions are frozen, transfer to airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to two months.

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This article originally appeared as “The Perfect Blend” in the March 2023 issue of Experience Life.

Robin Asbell

Robin Asbell is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and cookbook author.

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