Mandolines have always amazed me as they assist even the most unskilled cooks in achieving the slicing precision of a gourmet chef.
As a child I remember watching my mom cut potatoes for her oven-baked version of French fries. Each slice appeared identical to the last, allowing for uniform cooking and a very similar appearance to the fast food fries every child craves. I would always like to help in the kitchen, but this was one tool my child self was not allowed to go near for my mom’s fear of me cutting my small fingers on the sharp blades.
As it was always a staple gadget in our home, I recall my excitement to add a shiny new mandoline to my own kitchen when registering for wedding gifts a few years back. My mom and I are not alone in stocking our kitchens with this slicing genius as mandolines have been around since the 1500s and have really gained popularity in the common kitchen in recent years. It is believed that the first versions were French with the main body made of wood. Today you can still get the old-style wood version or other expensive varieties made solely of stainless steel. The production of inexpensive plastic mandolines has made the mandoline affordable and attainable for any cook.
Whatever the style or price, all mandolines basically work the same way. The cook slides the vegetable, fruit, hard cheese or other food item through different stainless-steel blades to produce a desired result. Mandolines generally have knobs that allow you to create different cuts such as a simple slice, julienne, crinkle cut, waffle cut or matchstick cut.
Not only do mandolines offer countless opportunities to create dishes with beautifully cut fruits, vegetables and other treats, but they actually make the job of cutting, slicing and dicing much easier than a knife does. Just off the top of my head I can think of many recipes that I use a mandoline for, to cut down on prep time and also make my dishes look like they came from a gourmet kitchen.
A favorite is using it for noodle-free veggie lasagna to slice numerous veggies thin enough so that they can substitute the noodles. I was also introduced to a beautiful fruit preparation while having breakfast at a quaint inn in Portugal. I was instantly awed but quickly realized my trusty mandoline could help me impress my own house guests. Just slice any seasonal fruit super thin and arrange artfully on a pretty platter!
Here's an easy way to make use of your trusty mandoline and the abundant autumn apples:
Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips
Recipe by Stacy Rothschild, MPH, RD
• 1-2 apples (Honeycrisp apples work really well because they hold their shape)
• 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Using a mandoline, slice apples thinly. Remove seeds. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange apple slices on it without overlapping. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour, then flip. Continue baking for 1-2 hours, flipping occasionally, until the apple slices are no longer moist. Store in airtight container.