A Mandoline: The Kitchen Tool You Must Have
What slices, juliennes and makes you look like a master chef? The mandoline! Of course, I’m not referring to the musical instrument but rather the handy kitchen tool. However, there is a musical influence behind the name, which was inspired by the way a cook “plays” the mandoline like a musician plays an instrument. When the mandoline was invented is unknown, but a very similar-looking tool appears in the first illustrated cookbook written in the 1570s by Bartolomeo Scappi, the cook for Pope Pius IV. How cool is that?
A mandoline will help save time in the kitchen while making it easier to eat more fruits and veggies. Creating vegetable-packed dishes is a breeze with this handy tool. The possibilities are endless—vegetable gratins (like the recipe below), julienned veggies for salads, pasta dishes, Asian summer rolls, or even for a simple raw veggie platter. Want to make your own apple or pear chips? A mandoline is the go-to gadget for perfectly thin, uniform slices.
Safety and cleaning
The most important point to remember when using a mandoline is to always use the hand guard while slicing. I’m speaking from experience when I say that! The blades are extremely sharp, which is what makes the mandoline such a great tool, but at the same time makes it a hazard for fingers.
To clean, I suggest washing and drying the blades by hand right after use to prevent rusting. Most mandolines allow the blades to be stored inside of it, but you can also keep them in a plastic bag.
Fall Vegetable Gratin
Recipe by Karman Meyer, RD, LDN
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 Russet potato, peeled
1 small acorn squash, peeled
1 small yellow onion
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup milk
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F and oil a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish.
- In a small bowl, add cheese, flour, brown sugar, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
- Using a mandolin, thinly slice the sweet potato, Russet potato, acorn squash and onion.
- Layer one-third of the vegetables in the baking dish and sprinkle with one-third of the flour mixture. Repeat this two more times.
- Pour the vegetable broth and milk over the vegetables and gently press down to moisten, then add mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 90 minutes or until vegetables are tender. If the top starts to brown, cover with aluminum foil. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Karman Meyer, RD, LDN, writes and develops recipes for her personal blog, Nutrition Adventures, specializes in diabetes management and geriatric nutrition in Nashville, and owns and operates food event company Oh My Nosh! with fellow dietitian Lindsey Joe. Follow her on Twitter.