There’s lots of fun to be had with a mandolin. You just have to know that you’re not going to get cut. It’s like a visualization thing. Be the ball, Danny. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. If you’re not feeling too zen, then the only way not to get cut is to be safe.
Some safety tips:
- When you reach for your mandolin, watch where your hand is going. This seems silly, but trust me. Do it.
- Work on a level surface.
- Watch your fingers as you slice. If you can see your fingers and the blade, then you’re less likely to let your fingers touch the blade.
- If you have to force the vegetable across the blade, stop. You’re going to seriously hurt yourself. Sharpen the blade before you continue.
- Use the guard at first.
- When you get down to the end of your vegetable you may lose your grip. Either stop completely, or grab a towel and grip the vegetable in that. A little padding goes a long way.
- Go slow.
The other night I made a gratin of sorts out of some zucchini and feta I had on hand. The first step is to slice the zucchini and crumble the feta.
Once you’ve got the zucchini prepped heat a nonstick pan over medium/medium high heat. Add the oil and a circular layer of the zucchini. The trick here is to move fast because the zucchini cooks quickly. You also have to season each layer, add the cheese, and add a little oil as you go.
If you feel that the bottom is burning, lower the heat, or take the pan off the entirely.
Once you have added all the zucchini and feta, the bottom should be fairly well browned – check it. If not, keep it on the burner for a minute more. Otherwise, move the pan to the broiler and let the top brown. Don’t be a hero and try to flip it – you wont make it. Trust me on this one. The pictures here are of attempt number two. Number one taught me that zucchini doesn’t flip like potatoes do.
Once the top is browned move the zucchini to paper towels to drain briefly. Flip it bottom side up to a cutting board, slice, and serve.
This post was originally about mandolins, but I got side tracked. Follow the tips above and experiment with different vegetables. Any hard/medium hard vegetables slice very well. Try it with potatoes and sweet potatoes for different gratins. Slice onions for pickling. Whatever floats your boat. Be safe.