Food processor
This workhorse of the modern kitchen is good for chopping, grating and shredding vegetables. A mini processor is useful for mincing a small amount of garlic or fresh herbs, while a standard model is handy for chopping onions, making pesto, and shredding cheese or carrots.

Grill pan
No time to fire up the grill? This heavy-bottomed, ridged pan is used on the stovetop and can yield seared, cross-hatched vegetables and meats that look and taste almost as if they were cooked on an outdoor grill. Always let the empty pan preheat over high heat for at least 5 minutes before adding the food.

Salad spinner
Wash and dry your greens using one handy implement. Whether your spinner uses a pump, crank or pull cord, the centrifugal force whirling your greens will ensure a crisp, dry salad every time.

Dried herbs
Some dried herbs, including dried thyme, rosemary and sage, can be used successfully when you do not have fresh herbs on hand. Their flavor is more concentrated, however, so use only one-third to one-half the amount of fresh.

Sharp knives
You will prep your ingredients twice as fast if you do not have to struggle with a dull knife. It is a good idea to take a minute or two to sharpen a knife before you put it away, so it will be ready to use next time you cook.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Simple Suppers, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2007).