tools of the trade: using a mandoline

julienned rutabaga, turnips, and carrots

so your recipe calls for "julienned" vegetables. what to do? sure, you could use a knife and slice really insanely thinly. but the easier method is to use a mandoline. many people are afraid (and rightly so) because the blade is super sharp and one slip and that tip of your finger is out of here!!

but with a few pointers, you can be confident in using a mandoline. and impress all your friends! julienned veggies! waffle cut french fries! the possibilities are endless.

1. make sure the base is secure. this seems like a duh point, but don't go blaming me if your mandoline slips on the counter!

2. if julienning carrots, don't take the root off. using the root base gives you something to hold on to and keeps your fingers away from the blade.

roots are your mandolining's best friend

3. for bigger root vegetables, cut into smaller sections if necessary. don't try slicing up a huge rutabaga because it will be unwieldy.

4. don't keep a vegetable in a round shape. cut each side so you have multiple sharp, straight edges to use.

carrots cut on a bias for a straight edge

this short edge is sliced, not the long side

5. hold the vegetable with your fingertips, not with your whole hand. it's similar to knife skills. your fingertips create more stability. most mandolines come with some contraption to "safely" hold the vegetable. but it is very cumbersome and gives a false sense of security.

fingertips only!

6. go quickly!! this sounds counterintuitive to being safe. but if you go slowly, the vegetable is apt to get stuck in the blade, and with it, who else knows. if something does get stuck, don't use your fingers, but use another piece of vegetable to push it out.

fast and steady wins ... and saves your fingers!

7. don't slice away to oblivion and go trying to use every last scrap. keep your fingertips at least an inch away from the blade. then just use those scraps for compost or stock.

note: for the purposes of full disclosure, these pointers are courtesy of mr. mimi ... he is the professional here, i'm just the dorky blogger :)

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