If you like to cook, a mandoline is very handy. So much of weeknight cooking time (and hassle) is knife work, and this $25 investment will cut your chopping and slicing time way down.
Here is a dish you can have prepped in 10 minutes with a mandoline: peel the vegetables first (5 minutes) and slice them as thin as you can on the mandoline (5 minutes). Your cooking time will be reduced by as much as 10 minutes because these will cook faster; it's nearly impossible to slice large vegetables as thin by hand.
"I think these dishes make a great fall meal in and of themselves, or awesome side additions to a larger meal," says chef Jessica Meter, who worked in Manhattan kitchens for years, and now runs her own catering company, Shultz & Fitcher.They’ll also make your house smell really good.
"The gratin is obviously a bit more of a decadent treat, whereas the kale is super healthy and simple and a crowd pleaser. I like to pair one rich vegetable based dish with a 'super food' style side so that they balance each other out."
Some mandoline safety advice: whenever you think you can get just one more slice from that vegetable, stop. It's not worth it.
Root Vegetable Gratin and Sautéed Kale by Jessica Meter
Serves 4, generously
Total time: 1 hour
Root vegetable gratin ingredients
- 1 small celery root, or 1/2 large celery root
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 1 1/2 cups milk, scalded, (plus more if needed)
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cloves garlic, grated
- Two sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1. Prepare the vegetables. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice all peeled and washed vegetables into 1/8 inch rounds. The celery root can be peeled and halved, then sliced into half-moons.
- Grate Parmesan and Gruyere, set aside.
- Get ready to make the bechamel. Zest lemon and garlic, measure out spices into a small ramekin for easy access. Bring milk to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.
- Start the bechamel. Melt butter in a medium saucepan and slowly whisk in flour, making sure to avoid lumps. Cook butter and flour on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the raw taste of the flour is gone. Be careful not to brown the flour and avoid sticking at the corners of the saucepan.
- When flour mixture is ready, slowly start to whisk in hot milk, incorporating milk while whisking to avoid lumps.
- Season bechamel with salt, pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and cayenne. Whisk in lemon and garlic zest. Cook bechamel until thickened and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. If needed, add milk until sauce reaches desired consistency.
- Butter a 9"x13" casserole dish and ladle a layer of bechamel at the bottom. Follow with a layer of shingled vegetables. Ladle more bechamel atop the vegetables, followed by sprinklings of both cheeses and salt and pepper. Continue until pan is full or vegetables are used up. Top with a thick layer of cheese.
- Bake at 375 degrees covered for 30-40 minutes, then finish in the oven uncovered for 10 minutes until cheese is browned. Serve hot or reheat later at 350.
Sauteed kale with garlic and lemon ingredients
- 2 bunches of kale (preferably Tuscan)
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 2 lemons, juiced
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Remove the stems from the kale, then wash and lightly dry.
- Zest garlic and juice lemons.
- Heat a large saute pan and coat with good olive oil. In batches, saute the kale on high heat, moving continuously with a set of tongs to quickly evaporate any liquid. You don't want to crowd the pan so that the kale steams, rather you want to saute the kale to quickly evaporate the liquid until kale is cooked and wilted.
- Transfer kale to a large bowl and dress with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes if desired and serve warm.