The Tool That Will Get You To Eat More Vegetables
And make them look mighty pretty, too.
The mandoline is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It's a big part of every professional kitchen and it should be in yours—especially if you're trying to eat more vegetables, but also if you love them already.
It's a handheld slicing tool with a stationary blade that dials to the desired thickness, and sometimes has an interchangeable blade that cuts matchsticks. A mandoline consistently aesthetically pleasing slices of vegetables (and some fruits) that are a consistent thickness and cook evenly.
I always have mine at arm's reach. I rely on it for paper-thin slices of raw beets and radishes, as perfectly captured in this recipe. And also for apples, pears and celery, as seen in this salad. Of course, you can use a chef's knife to thinly slice the aforementioned or any other ingredient, but it does take knife skills, precision, and patience. The mandoline, although it requires a watchful eye (to avoid slicing off the tip of a finger), is a mindless task that makes kitchen time easier and faster. Often, when I'm too lazy at the thought of washing a cutting board and a knife, I just grab a bowl and a mandoline and shave the vegetables right into the bowl. Add a simple vinaigrette, salt and pepper, and a healthful salad is on the table fast. This time of year, my mandoline gets a good use for comforting dishes like potato gratin. Other mandolin-friendly veg and uses: onions, shallots, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, and veg chips, just to name a few. My personal favorite? Fennel sliced lengthwise. It's visually striking.
My favorite mandoline (which is also the type you spot in every restaurant kitchen) is this Japanese one. But this no-frills one also does the job well, even with only four dials to adjust thickness. Both are very easy to use: Just hold the vegetable in the palm of your hand (use the guard to avoid cutting yourself, or double up on gloves as some professionals do) and push against the blade. Once you get the hang of it, it will cut down your prep time significantly.
Go easy at first and soon you'll be a pro slicer, wowing everyone with gorgeous, vegetable-rich dishes.