Home-smoking may sound like an activity more for gung-ho meat eaters than for vegetarians, but the subtle way wood smoke kicks up the natural flavors of nuts, cheeses, vegetables——even tofu——makes the technique worth trying out. All you need is a sturdy stove-top smoker and a handful of wood chips, and you're ready to give your favorite foods a unique fire-roasted taste that'll be the envy of carnivores.
What You'll NeedStove-top smoker This heavy-gauge stainless-steel pan with a tight-fitting lid keeps smoke and heat inside. The drip pan and food rack hold the food above the heat so it gets smoked, not seared. We like the Stovetop Smoker from Camerons Products; $54.95; cameronsproducts.com.
Wood chips These resemble coarse cornmeal more than the large wood chips used for outdoor smoking. To smoke without wood chips, try the Chinese method of using black tea leaves.
Kitchen timer Stove-top-smoked foods can go from beautiful to burned in a matter of minutes, so it's important to check them often and use a timer.
3 Easy Steps
1. Spread wood chips over bottom of smoker. Set drip pan over chips, and then set rack in place.
2. Place food on rack. To smoke small items, such as almonds, use a perforated foil pan.
3. Cover smoker almost totally—you'll want to see the first sign of smoke to start your timing—and set over medium heat. At the first wisp, close smoker completely and set the timer. It may take a few batches to figure out the perfect heat level and timing for your smoker. If food is fully smoked but not quite fully cooked, transfer to a baking pan and finish in a 350°F oven to prevent scorching.
Got chips? From mild apple and alder to heady hickory and mesquite, the right type of wood chips goes a long way toward imparting the flavor that best complements veggies. Stock up on a variety of wood chips, then follow these pairing recommendations from Chris Malone, vice president of Camerons Products in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Food: Asparagus Wood-chip flavor: apple, cherry, or maple
Food: Beets Wood-chip flavor: alder or apple
Food: Broccoli Wood-chip flavor: apple or cherry for mild flavor; hickory for deep smoky taste
Food: Cheeses Wood-chip flavor: oak
Food: Cherry tomatoes Wood-chip flavor: apple, cherry, or pecan
Food: Corn Wood-chip flavor: oak
Food: Fresh chiles Wood-chip flavor: hickory or mesquite
Food: Olives Wood-chip flavor: hickory
Food: Potatoes Wood-chip flavor: hickory
Food: Tofu Wood-chip flavor: alder or apple