9 Spring Vegetables To Shave Into Salads
You likely chop, dice, puree, and sauté your vegetables, but do you shave them? There’s really no better technique for preparing—and tenderizing—raw veggies for salads, slaws, and garnishes. Shaving vegetables spotlights their crisp texture and provides a nice surface area for delicious dressings and toppings. The best tool for the job is a mandoline, which you want to use on the thinnest setting (though you can always go thicker). If you don’t have one, no big deal: Pull out your vegetable peeler to create elegant strands or, depending on your knife skills and the sharpness of your blade, try to make delicate papery slices. Get started with this colorful lineup of nine good-to-shave spring vegetables.
Gone are the days when carrots only came in orange: Farmers now grow the root veg in purple, white, yellow, and red shades. No matter the color, carrots fade when cooked, so a shaved carrot salad is just the place to celebrate the spectrum. You can shave carrots lengthwise for ribbons (the best way if the roots are skinny) or crosswise. Try seasoning a carrot salad with Middle Eastern flavors, such as chopped cilantro and mint, toasted pistachios and walnuts, shallots, and some pomegranate vinegar or sumac.
(Image: The Year in Food)
Roasted asparagus is a simple pleasure, but appreciate the stalks even more by creating thin strips and simply tossing them in sherry vinegar and olive oil. Then expand your repertoire by tossing the raw stalk in a creamy Caesar dressing.
Shaving radishes tames their spicy flavor. You can mellow them even more by marinating the slices in lime juice, then dressing them in Asian flavors, like a dab of fish sauce, some sesame oil, sliced scallions, and peanuts. Or take inspiration from the tea sandwich and let the radish slices serve as the base for crumbled goat cheese, slivers of chives or mint, and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
(Image: So Hungry I Could Blog)
Anise-scented fennel becomes crisp and brilliantly mild when sheared into skinny strips. Fennel plays well with other vegetables—think thinly sliced radish and shallot—as well as with fruits, including apples, pears, and especially citrus. Add a dollop of something rich, like ricotta, hunks of avocado, or toasted nuts to balance the tastes and textures.
For anyone who dislikes cooking beets (raise your hand!), shaving them is the way to go. Shaved beets have a pleasing apple-like crunch and slight sweetness. For the most dramatic look in a salad, go for candy cane beets, which show off gorgeous red-and-white stripes.
(Image: The Clever Carrot)
The traditional Italian salad Insalata de Carciofi makes perfect use of this oft-intimidating spring vegetable. Once you remove its outer leaves and clean out the fuzzy inner “choke”, the preparation is simple: Thinly slice the artichoke, soak the slices in lemon juice, then top them with shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil for a rich finish. Another good move: Pile the artichokes and cheese on a bed of peppery arugula.
(Image: Italian Food Forever)
Celery might have a pedestrian reputation, but once you cut through the stringiness by slicing against a stalk (important!), you’re left with buoyant, delicate strips. Celery doesn’t have a strong flavor, so try punctuating a shaved celery salad with toasted nuts, a sharp vinaigrette, and a funky blue cheese.
Being mostly water, zucchini are ideal when eaten raw; you end up with more volume. The texture is best when the summer squash marinates for a bit; it retains its sturdiness but becomes more silken. Like carrots, you can shave zucchini lengthwise or crosswise. Once sliced and marinated, it pairs well with pretty much any flavor combo, from Italian herbs and pine nuts (try topping them as you would pasta with tomato sauce and cheese) to Japanese miso and nori.
(Image: Gourmet Traveller)
To turn cabbage from a wintry sauté or soup filler into a bright, crisp salad, shave half a head as thinly as you can and then dress the leafy vegetable. Its mild flavor goes well with most dressings, including an herbaceous buttermilk one, a slaw-like mayo, or a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette.
(Image: Food Network)
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