It’s so large that I could bathe my cat in it, should he let me, so large that it doesn’t nest nicely with my other prep bowls, and so large that it’s been designated its own area of the kitchen. But you know what? It’s worth it.
Because with the exception of running into your boss in your therapist’s waiting room, there’s nothing more awkward than using a bowl that’s too small for the task at hand. Not only does stuff fly or slosh everywhere (a mess!), but you simply can’t do as effective a job of mixing, whether you’re stirring together cookie dough or tossing salad.
If you’ve ever tried to dress a salad in a too-small bowl, you know that it’s nearly impossible to get that nest of leaves in the middle evenly coated while keeping the wriggly arugula contained. In our book, the bowl should be at least 25% larger than its contents: Otherwise, it’s like your leaves are trying to do the Cha Cha Slide in a mosh pit.
Big bowls aren’t just handy for dressing salads, though. They’re great whenever you need to do thorough mixing. Potato salad. Pasta salad. Okay, I guess those are both salads by name—but you get the point. How about white pesto or red pesto or green pesto? Any circumstance in which you need to marry noodles and sauce off the heat in order to achieve that perfect emulsion, you’ll need a big bowl.
But enough about pasta. An XL bowl is also indispensable when you want to marinate a big piece of meat or just a big volume of meat without wasting a plastic bag (sure, you may need to clear a little room in your fridge). It’s the right size for an ice bath, whether you’re shocking a bunch of jammy soft-boiled eggs, blanching a boatload of vegetables for a grand aioli (hey, it could happen), prepping this Ice Water Salad, chilling a bottle of wine, or cooling down a custard for ice cream. And it’s perfect for foods that will grow in size, like dried beans that plump up as they soak or pizza dough that (if all goes well) will grow and rise. My bowl is roomy enough that I can knead dough inside of it, which saves me the trouble of transferring it to a work surface.
If nothing else, a big bowl is instrumental when you’re doubling or tripling recipes for meal-prepping or entertaining. How else will you coat six pounds of chicken wings with buffalo sauce or serve the nutritional yeast-dusted popcorn?
So the bowl is big, yes, but it has more than earned its keep. And that’s more than I can say about that humongous pencil (may it give some third grader somewhere some joy).
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Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit