Why do it: When you puree vegetables, they go from ordinary to velvety with the touch of a button. Pureeing involves two basic steps: simmering the vegetables (say, squash or broccoli, sweet potatoes or cauliflower) until they're tender, and blending them with broth until they're smooth. Adjusting the amount of broth determines whether you end up with a soup or a side dish. If you want to put a little olive oil in your puree, fine. Bazilian explains that eating low-fat isn't just about avoiding fat. "It's about choosing fats intelligently," she says.
What you need: Food processors are terrific for chopping, but for a really smooth puree you'll need to pull out the blender. If you're using a traditional countertop model, whir hot vegetables in batches, filling the jar only halfway―unless you want to spend the night cleaning the ceiling. A time-saving alternative is an immersion blender. Basically a blender on a stick, it can be placed directly into a pot of hot liquid.
Tip: Add a garnish―choose something with a contrasting texture and color, like pumpkin seeds or fresh herbs. Chopping the seeds distributes the crunch and makes a small sprinkle seem like an abundance; heating the seeds brings out their flavor and aroma.