In the hectic seasons of life, my salads have evolved from lettuce-based salads into “what’s-in-my-produce-drawer-today-salads.” Frankly, I got bored with soggy, lettuce salads from a bag. Give me crunch! Give me color! Give me creativity! Turning beautiful, raw produce into slaw form delivers on all three, thanks to a mandoline slicer, one of my favorite kitchen tools. Think of it as “going slawing,” like the old “Let’s go Krogering” commercials. My internal conversation goes something like this: “Ooh…an apple! Yea, a carrot! Score, a few green onions! No way, a wedge of cabbage and a fennel bulb!” It’s the little joys of participating in transformation. Most raw fresh produce will slice easily into paper-thin results on a mandoline, but use common sense and skip items like okra, eggplant, and potatoes. Why? For several reasons, but who wants to eat raw okra, eggplant, or potatoes anyway? Here are some steps to demonstrate how simple the process is:
- Shave chosen produce into large mixing bowl. I recommend a mesh glove or use safety guard on tool to prevent hand-slaw. Again, use common sense and don’t try everything on a mandoline, like green onions for instance – just use the knife. If you don’t have a mandoline, order one! In a pinch, a box grater can suffice, but use the length of the item vs. the width. Or just practice those budding knife skills.
- Toss a fresh, fragile herb into the salad bowl, like cilantro, basil, tarragon, or mint (the bruisers – not hearty ones like thyme rosemary, or sage). Choose a theme based off the herb. Cilantro and lime? Basil and balsamic? Tarragon and lemon? Have fun.
- Make a trusted homemade vinaigrette to coordinate your theme. The ratio is 2 parts oil (extra virgin olive oil is standard but you can experiment with others) to 1 part acid (vinegar, lemon, lime juice, or a combo?). Then play a little with the balance…add more or less honey, pressed garlic, dijon mustard, and salt. For extra zing, add a little lemon or lime zest.