There aren't many single-function kitchen tools that I can get behind. Do we really need a jalapeño corer and an avocado cuber? I'll admit I do love a strawberry huller and a citrus squeezer, but generally these types of products are fun at first use, then end up collecting dust and making clutter in my kitchen. My knives or my hands alone end up doing all the work.
There is one seemingly gimmicky tool in my kit that I absolutely adore and highly recommend; a handy little number: the julienne peeler.
The julienne peeler is a simple Y-shaped vegetable peeler with fine serrated teeth that shreds vegetables into thin and pretty strips in no time. I turn to it over and over again to make elegant ribbons that have the power to fancy-up any dish in no time. It is easy, approachable, and practical for small jobs. (For a larger yield of ribbon cuts, I know spiralizers are all the rage, but I rely on my food processor for that.)
There's no mental hurdle to overcome with this manual, handheld peeler. You don't have to lug it out, put it together, or wash its nooks and crannies. Just grab the peeler and start peeling away. The cleanup is fast and simple, too — about as easy as washing a fork. Once you experience the beautiful and easy results from this simple tool, you'll grab it again and again to produce raw vegetable ribbons or noodles that you can use to make a meal or garnish one.
How to Use a Handheld Julienne Peeler
- Peel vegetables with thick or tough skins with a standard peeler. For vegetables with thin skins like zucchini, start with Step 2.
- Firmly hold a vegetable flat against your cutting board or at an angle (whichever is more comfortable for you). Press the peeler against the vegetable and peel the flesh, sliding the peeler away from you. You can make long, thin strips by keeping the peeler pressed into the vegetable, or shorter, matchstick cuts with quick, short strokes. Peel in place for several strokes. Turn and repeat until you can no longer peel comfortably.
- Use a chef's knife to finely slice any remaining pieces that you can't comfortably shred with the peeler.
My Favorite Uses for a Julienne Peeler
- Raw Zucchini Salad: Use a julienne peeler on zucchini to make a simple raw zucchini salad. (I always use my julienne peeler to make this quick salad.) Dress the zucchini ribbons with lemon, your best olive oil, a mix of fresh summer herbs, toasted almonds, and a shaving of Parmesan or sprinkle of feta.
- Garnish for a Green Salad: Use a julienne peeler to shred vegetables into thin strips and pair them with greens. The cuts will turn a simple salad into an elegant, professional-looking dish. You can use a julienne peeler with any vegetable that you wish. For a green salad pairing, I love to use carrots, cucumbers (shorter strips), and kohlrabi.
- Stir-Fries and Wraps: Shred veggies with a julienne peeler and add them to a stir-fry, or use them as a filling for a lettuce wrap or spring roll.
- Vegetable Noodles: Peel vegetables, like zucchini, eggplant, and delicata squash, into noodles that you can sauté with a pesto or simmer in a sauce.