How to do it
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How to julienne vegetables to make fun, colorful garnishes

Zucchini matchstick garnish with fresh thyme on veggie pasta salad

Don’t the professional chefs know how to make a plate pretty? Quite often, when we’re in a one of our local haunts, our plates arrive with little haystacks of julienned vegetables garnishing the dish. Those tiny matchstick-sized pieces dress the food and taste delicious too.

Broccoli stems, colorful carrots and zucchini, all make terrific julienne fodder

Broccoli stems, colorful carrots and zucchini, all make terrific julienne fodder

I always thought julienning vegetables too much trouble to try, until I ran across this video. Who knew slicing vegetables into teeny, tiny rectangles could be so easy, or so fun? Take a look.


Looks super easy, doesn’t it? Zip, cut, cut, cut, and voila! Beautiful piles of julienned carrots, zucchinis, what-have-you. These were what I had handy today, but imagine the color of red, orange and green bell peppers, or the crunch and flavor of a jicama, a rutabaga or a turnip?

My first thought on viewing that video was, yeah, I need to get one of those mandolins. But then folks in the comments section mentioned cutting their fingers, so yuk, I’d have to get the glove too! Where would I store the new gadget and its companion glove? Then, slap-the-forehead-moment: I have a mandolin slicer on my grater. Would it work?

Slicing zucchini on the mandolin blade of my flat grater doesn't work too well

Slicing zucchini on the mandolin blade of my flat grater doesn’t work too well

Not so much. The blade made a mess of my zucchini. Wait! Wait! My food processor has a mandolin blade I almost never use. Let’s try that.

Testing the food processor mandolin blade by carefully making one slice by hand--nice and thin!

Testing the food processor mandolin blade by carefully making one slice by hand–nice and thin!

Yes, that slices the zucchini nicely. Now all I have to do is make the match sticks.

The food processor makes mostly long, thin slices

The food processor makes mostly long, thin slices

Nice, huh? Pretty easy to pile those wedges up the way the chef did in the video and quickly make matchstick size pieces.

In just a minute, using the video chef's method of stacking the weddges, I had a pile of matchstick-sized pieces

In just a minute, using the video chef’s method of stacking the weddges, I had a pile of matchstick-sized pieces

This could come in handy next time we have a dinner party. Um, but when am I going to need that many match stick vegetables for just the two of us? Wouldn’t it be fun to julienne vegetables now and then for us, or for a small party? What if I just cut the vegetables up by hand? How long will it take?

Oops. I sliced the zuke on the round, making tiny quarter-sized pieces

Oops. I sliced the zuke on the round, making tiny quarter-sized pieces

Too long, if I slice them on the round, as I did at first. All I could get from these were little one-inch matchsticks. Quickly wising up, I sliced the zuke on the straight and soon had a nice pile of julienned zucchini almost as even as the ones from the food processor.

Front: Julienned zukes cut by hand; Rear: julienned zukes sliced by food processor mandolin, then cut by hand;

Front: Julienned zukes cut by hand; Rear: julienned zukes sliced by food processor mandolin, then cut by hand;

Next time, I’ll remember to slice them on the diagonal, so I get those pretty ends and don’t end up with some all white pieces and some with a long, green side. Both methods work well for julienning carrots and broccoli stems too.

Quick work with the knife produces colorful carrot and broccoli matchsticks

Quick work with the knife produces colorful carrot and broccoli matchsticks

It took less than two minutes for a little stack of carrots or broccoli. Have to say, I’m relieved. Now I have a new trick up my sleeve for adding a little extra punch to my serving plates, and I don’t have to find room in my kitchen for that mandolin that looked so appealing in the video. Got it covered already. Whew!

Whether it’s a new gadget or a bold new idea, sometimes it pays to take a breath and step away before committing, doesn’t it? Get a little perspective. Look at what you have, or are doing, that already works.

For lunch today I prettied up my veggie pasta bowl with a stack of the julienned zucchini and some fresh thyme leaves from my windowsill garden. Total yum.

My lunchtime veggie pasta bowl with zucchini strips and fresh thyme leaves for garnish

My lunchtime veggie pasta bowl with zucchini strips and fresh thyme leaves for garnish

But what to do with all those vegetables I cut into little strips while I experimented with this idea?

Snap! Coleslaw. I’ll just grate up the rest of those broccoli stems and make a nice coleslaw to go with our supper tonight. I’m thinking black bean, red pepper and cheese quesadillas on organic, stone ground tortillas with a side of coleslaw in a light vinaigrette. Quick and easy supper. Sound good?

♥  ♥  ♥

This post is shared at Real Food Fridays #144 – Sharing a Healthier Lifestyle.

8 Comments

  1. Sharon L. Grace says

    Before this, I would cut long slices of vegetable, then cut again and again and perhaps again until I got the J look. Not necessary now, thanks to this simple, and rather obvious now that I know, trick of the trade. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Kathryn Grace,
    What a great idea to make all those colorful veggies into so many different forms and sizes. I love you idea of making the coleslaw with your extra pieces. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great idea! I actually own a mandoline (which I never use, whoops) and I have a slicer attachment on my food processor, but I never thought of using either to make doing a julienne easy! But it looks like it makes it SO much easier. I’m definitely going to add some julienned veggies to my salads and entrees this week. Thanks for the hack!

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure Lee. Let me know how it works for you, either way, won’t you? Don’t forget that glove if you’re using a hand-operated mandolin!

      Like

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