It has taken me awhile to get over thinking of vegetables as high-maintenance food. You know? I live a life in which hard-to-open packaging represents my fight for survival.
Oh, I bet you’ve been there, that moment when reaching for a pair of scissors to cut open that bag of prewashed lettuce feels like a horrible insult at the end of a long, thankless day.
So bringing home an armful of sandy leeks to clean, mince, and slowly sautee? In what universe?
A salad made of shoestring jicama? Are you kidding?
Waffle-cut sweet potatoes? Your mother.
Well, but wait a minute. Pushing the reset button on my attitude might actually turn this thing around.
I can envision making an art of it. I can see myself adopting vegetable washing and preparation as a creative release rather than a demeaning chore.
It’s a blurry picture, but I’m concentrating.
It has helped in my past to spend a ridiculous amount of money on new equipment. A few years back, after working in a restaurant and not being able to live without it, I bought a chef’s mandoline. A serious piece of slice-and-dice machinery that a person could mangle herself with if she’s not careful. I adore this thing. It allows me to make paper thin zucchini slices I can coil up in ruffles, purple cabbage sliced so finely it fairly melts in your mouth. Sliced Brussels sprouts? Try them.
I couple mandoline magic with knife skills picked up from books, at the elbows of chefs, and watching cooking shows on the food channel. Together these techniques make a real difference at the end of the day, when my full concentration can go into vegetable art. Meal meditation.
One of my colleagues and I were discussing Salade Nocoise the other day. Big platters of artistically arranged cold veggies, raw and blanched, arranged with sliced eggs, tuna, olives, pickles. With a Dijon vinaigrette on the side? Mmmm. A good reason to have friends over on a beautiful spring day.
Send me an invite by email,