Any way you slice it, mandolines are a great go-to kitchen gadget. Learn how to use them and what to look for.
Captain Corelli must have been quite the chef, right? Mandolines (not the stringy, tuneful kind) are fast becoming this here foodie’s latest obsession.
Do you blanch at the thought of anything finely sliced? Does the mere suggestion of a julienne send you into a tailspin?
Enter the mandoline: the trusty timesaver you never knew you needed.
You can really go as professional or as simple as you wish with this gadget. The simplest and most user-friendly are handheld, with a horizontal blade inlaid into a plastic panel. Fruit and vegetables are sliced by placing them on the plastic and pushing them over the blade over and over again. (The process is much faster than it sounds!)The blade is often moveable so that you can slice in three thicknesses.
Mandolines then range in fanciness, with add-ons such as nonslip bases, food catching and storing compartments, interchangeable blades, julienne and grating attachments, and different angled blades to prevent produce from sticking.
When it comes to possibilities, the mandoline is a pretty versatile tool.
- Paper-thin slices of springy, zingy vegetables such as radishes and fennel are a great addition to standard salads and make for an interesting change in texture.
- Stir-fry techniques can take on a much leaner look and faster cooking time, not to mention cutting down prep time by half!
- Arduous, homemade french fries can now be prepared in minutes.
- You could even try making your own sweet potato or apple chips as a healthy snack.
What to look for
When buying a mandoline, pick it up and hold it. If you’re going with a handheld option, it needs to feel comfortable and have a good grip. If you would rather choose a freestanding option, it needs to sit securely on your counter, so one with a rubber base or feet is ideal.
In order for a mandoline to do its job the blade needs to be razor sharp, which can be somewhat dangerous when using, switching blades, or cleaning. With this in mind, make sure that your mandoline has a well-fitting hand-guard, which holds the produce in place as you slice while protecting your fingers.