I’ve been learning to play a new instrument in the kitchen: the mandoline. Not to be confused with the musical instrument from the guitar family, a mandoline is a tool that professional chefs have used for a while to slice and julienne vegetables and fruits with precision.
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Mandolines come in a wide range of price points but work on the same premise. It’s a plane that you glide the vegetable down that has a blade that cuts neat slices. Repeat, sliding the vegetable down the plane to produce consistently even cuts. Some mandolines have multiple blades that can produce julienne, crinkle cuts, waffle cuts and diamond shapes.
Some ideas for the mandoline:
- Instead of ordering up French fries at the fast food joint, thinly slice some sweet potatoes at home and then bake them to a crisp in the oven. The mandoline means the slices are of even thickness, which is more than can be said even if you’re a skilled knife handler. Slice, then toss in a drizzle of olive oil and spices: my favorites are sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Bake at 400 degrees until desired firmness. For extra crisp, you can cook them on a top rack of the oven, and flip halfway through.
- Stock up on sliced salad veggies. I find myself buying bagged lettuce more frequently, but then staring at it thinking it looks so boring. Avoid this by slicing up perfect sizes of cucumber, carrots, red onions, green peppers, and beets to throw on top for a colorful and much more exciting salad.
- Colorful ribbon salad: Instead of using your vegetable peeler to hack at making vegetable ribbons, try them in your mandoline – they’re gorgeous! Consider zucchini, carrot, and yellow squash ribbons wound together and topped with a drizzle of dressing made from balsamic vinegar, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic. Sprinkle sea salt on top to taste.
Mandolines have extremely sharp blades, so it’s extremely important to use the food guides that are included to protect your fingers from a gnarly slice. After you’ve gotten the hang of using the mandoline for a while, you’ll think you can skip the food guide. You can’t. For extra protection, you can also use a metal glove (similar to what is used for shucking oysters). Better safe than sorry!
Are you a mandoline user? What is your favorite thing to slice up?