We pay more for carrots when they’re stripped and hacked into oblong nuggets than when they’re fresh from the ground. But while most Americans view preparing produce as a tedious chore–and a barrier to cooking veggie-heavy meals–chef Cara Mangini, who comes from a family of meat butchers, sees it as a pleasure. In her new book The Vegetable Butcher, Mangini shares the knife skills needed to break down a whole garden of vegetables efficiently enough for a weeknight dinner. “Once you get the hang of these techniques, you don’t have to worry about the time it’s going to take,” Mangini says. “If we want to push vegetables closer to the center of our plate, it’s important we make preparing them second nature.”
[This article consists of 15 illustrations. Please see your hard copy of magazine.]
LEARN TO SEED TOMATOES
1. Many recipes call for seeded tomatoes to avoid extra liquid in finished dishes. First, cut out the core.
2. Next, quarter the tomato on a cutting board, cut side up so that the juices don’t run everywhere.
3. Carefully run your index finger inside the cavity to remove the seeds and their jelly-like surroundings.
PREPARE GARLIC PROPERLY
1. Once you’ve peeled and halved a garlic clove, use a paring knife to remove the germ. That part can taste acrid when cooked.
2. Now, using a chef’s knife, slice the garlic cloves first lengthwise and then crosswise to mince them.
EAT BROCCOLI TWO WAYS
1. Broccoli is a two-for-one vegetable when you know how to prep it properly.
2. Remove the florets from the stalk and gently pry them apart with a knife.
3. Using a paring knife, slice them into smaller pieces.
4. Using the same knife, slice the thick outer skin from the stalk.
5. Continue to peel it gently to reveal the tender and juicy flesh beneath.
6. Slice the peeled stalk into small medallions and prepare as desired.
DICE AN ONION PERFECTLY
1. Halve the onion vertically, then slide your knife through it horizontally to create layers of onion slices.
2. Make cuts up to but not through the end of the onion so it stays intact.
3. Next, turn the onion and cut vertically, bisecting the previous cuts, to produce a perfect dice.
STRIP KALE LEAVES
1. The easiest way to remove kale’s tough central vein is to strip it off with your fingers. Pinch the stem in one hand, and with the other pull your fingers up the leaf, stripping off the leaves.
This appears in the April 18, 2016 issue of TIME.
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