Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Get to know a tool: the mandoline. Also, summer squash "noodles."

A confession: most of these treats I make are just that -- treats. I try to be careful about my diet, and just as an example, the day that I knew I was going to eat some of that cake (along with other party nibbles), I ate almost nothing besides fruits, veggies, and scrambled egg whites all day. Today's post is far more fat-conscious than most. Just a heads-up.

I absolutely love eating out, and I have been hearing about a new sandwich place in town. I have shortened days this week, so today I picked up my daughter and we went to lunch. I had a beer-poached fig and goat cheese sandwich, followed by a Thai tea and sweet potato popsicle. So I knew I needed a light dinner.

Now, you can totally make "noodles"* with a vegetable peeler (just keep peeling down the length of the squash until there is no more to peel!), but I like the texture of these very thin, square strips I can make with my mandoline.

Technically, mine is called a "v-slicer," as most mandolines have just one straight blade. I had one of those for years, and it finally got really dull, so I asked my mom to pick this up at Sur la Table (woo-woo!). It has three plates you can slide in. One is just for slices, and it is adjustable from very thin to pretty thick. I used it on the thinnest setting to slice some jicama on Mothers' Day, and it was practically see-through and adhered to the bowl. It's great for things like cucumbers for sunomono or anything that says "shaved." Later this week, I'm thinking of pickling some carrots, so I'll probably use a thicker setting for those.

The other two plates have a bunch of vertical blades, so that you can either create long strips or a fine dice. I used the wider one to cut long strips of veggies for snacking.

And today I used the thin blade attachment. I'll show you what I did!

Zucchini "noodles" with feta and tomatoes

2 zucchini
2 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes
2 tsp capers
1/4 cup crumbled feta
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Get a large pot of well-salted water boiling. Cut the zucchini into super-thin slices, either with a vegetable peeler, a mandoline, or by hand if you're a badass.

Drop the zucchini into the water and let cook for two minutes. Drain.

Chop garlic finely and put into a large serving bowl. Chop tomatoes into about a 1/2 inch dice and add them to the bowl. Add the capers and feta. Then put in the "noodles." Mix well and top with the pepper.


You can make lots of changes, of course. I actually really like olives in a dish like this, I just didn't have any. You could add a little olive oil, leave out the capers, or add something else you like. If you're really into salt, you could add some, but the feta is plenty salty for me. If this isn't filling, you could mix it half and half with real pasta, and it would cut down on the calories, too.

I recommend using a good feta, as I've gotten spoiled and inferior fetas make me sad now.

Not that it matters to me, but it's also gluten-free.

A couple notes on the mandoline/slicer: it's great for all kinds of things, like scalloped potatoes, crudite trays, chips, veggies for sushi... I use it almost as much as I use my food processor or Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, which are some serious staples in my house (I'll probably devote posts to them later). If you're a bit clumsy with a knife and end up with uneven slices, this thing is a lifesaver. But I do have a word of caution: it is SHARP. For serious. Like, I cut my hand on it and barely felt it, but it opened my hand right up. You should always use the guard thing that comes with it, and even then, be careful not to lean the heel of your hand too far back. Keep your hands FAR from the blades of this thing. The flat cutting panel has a safe setting for washing, but the others don't -- because they are not safe! Be careful out there. Oh, and for the record, my model is by Borner. It's made in Germany, so its warnings about using the guard start with ACHTUNG! Also, I just looked it up on Amazon (as always, I'm not getting paid or anything), and all the "related items" are cut-resistant gloves. So there.

*I have been careful to call these "noodles" rather than noodles, as the first time I made them, I called the dish "summer squash fettucini," which made my husband think there were actual pasta noodles involved. He was disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Just going through your blog finally & catching up.
    I asked for a mandoline for Christmas, but haven't used it too much. Need to bust that thing out soon. And dang, but they are sharp!