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Spin City

       

Summer marks an uptick in our intake of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables. A mono meal of plums or cherries at lunch and giant salads at dinnertime alkalize the system and cool us down from the inside out. Plus, they hydrate our systems leaving our skin supple and our minds alive. To get it all down, we’ve come to rely on a few key tools to slice and dice, to spin and shave and to transform our piles of produce into the shining salads and raw dinners we can eat for days. Shape shifters, come and get it.

Mandoline

A mandoline is a tabletop tool that creates the gorgeously thin, shaved slices of vegetables you might recognize from the last fennel salad you ordered out. An otherwise coarse vegetable like celery becomes watery, crunchy and light when passed through the mandoline. And a good mandoline will allow you to adjust for thickness and even julienne. The most popular of these seems to be the Benriner, an affordable Japanese model.

But I prefer a smaller tool, one my friend Wendi dubbed the “handoline.” Kyocera’s $20 hand held slicer with a ceramic blade is so compact and easy. There’s nothing to put together and it’s fast and easy to clean. I use it several times a week adding shaved celery, radishes and fennel to big green salads. Or skip the lettuce and make a big shaved salad dressed with a touch of olive oil (we love Wonder Valley!) and lots of lemon and salt. Add a handful of herbs and be amazed by how many vegetables you and your loved ones can take in.

By the way, a simple peeler can also do the trick though it's far less efficient.

 

Spiralizer

Thanks to the zucchini noodle, the spiralizer needs no introduction. Transforming any solid vegetable (think carrots, daikon and squash) into spaghetti-like strands. Paleo types and food combiners alike love the spiralizer for allowing us to sauce up a giant pile of veggies and skip the starchy grain-based pastas. Keep things light and up your intake of vegetables in one easy spin. Again, there are popular tabletop versions like the Paderno, but I much prefer this tiny hand held number which fits neatly in my utensil drawer. No parts, no box, no fussy clean-up.

One of my favorite weeknight dinners is a spicy sauce I make from fresh tomatoes. I spoon it over raw zucchini noodles and serve with nutritional yeast or Dr. Cow's Turmeric Tomato Cashew Cheese. I make the sauce before work in the morning. It's that simple. 

 

Grater

I learned recently that grating starchy vegetables like beets and carrots pre-digests them in a sense, making them lighter on the system and less heat-producing. And there's nothing more delicious than a grated carrot salad. Try the classic bistro version with vinegar and shallots or the heartier seeded version. I like to swap out roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds for dehydrated ones from Go Raw or Moon Juice. A simple box grater is all you need, but if you're impatient like me, you might be inclined to go for the grater attachment on the classic Cuisinart. Then make enough for the week.

 

 

Weekday Tomato Sauce 

I add smoked dried chilies or smokey dried chili flakes (like these!) or a smoked dried tomato from Cookbook in LA (or all 3!) to up the heat and flavor. Feel free to omit or add your own spice. Or swap the heat for fresh basil leaves.

 

2 teaspoons olive, avocado or coconut oil

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 favorite smoked whole chili, or a big pinch smoked dried tomato or all three

Big pinch pink Himalayan salt

Black pepper to taste

6-8 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

 

Set a saucepan over low heat and add the oil to warm. If you keep the heat low at this stage you can use very little oil, keeping this sauce really light for summer. Add the garlic and let warm for a few minutes. Add the chilies, smoked tomatoes, chilie flakes or alternately basil leaves if using. Add salt and black pepper. Stir and continue to cook until garlic softens and melds with the flavors. Add tomotes, turn heat up to medium and when it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve over raw zucchini noodles with a spoonful of your favorite raw nut cheese, a shake of nutritional yeast or a side of sourdough bread.

 

Grated Carrot Salad, Bistro style

I know that curley parsley is somewhat out of favor. I blame this on its texture. But when finely chopped, I find that it has far more flavor than its Italian cousin. 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt plus more to taste

black pepper to taste

2-3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup olive oil or neutral oil like avocado

8-10 big carrots, grated by hand or in the Cuisinart

Handful curley parsley, chopped very finely chopped

 

Add the mustard, vinegar, salt, peppers and shallots to a small mixing bowl. Whisk together to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Add to a large mixing bowl with carrots and parsley until it's dressed to your liking. If there's extra vinaigrette, save for a green salad. This is great on bibb lettuce. 

Note, you can make the vinaigrette ahead of time. The longer the shallots spend in the vinaigrette, the softer they become. I like a medium place where they are still a bit crunchy. 

This makes enough for a group but I love to keep a big batch in the fridge to add to our green salads at night.

 

Grated Carrot Salad, California style

8-10 big carrots, grated by hand or in the Cuisinart

1/2 cup raw and dehydrated pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or these

Juice of 1 lemon

Scant pour of olive oil

Big pinch pink Himalayan salt

1 bunch chives, chopped

 

Put the carrots in a large mixing bowl along with the seeds. Squeeze lemon over the top, drizzle with olive oil and add the salt. Stir well to mix. Add chives and stir again. Taste, adjust seasoning and enjoy. 

This makes enough for a group but I love to keep a big batch in the fridge to add to our green salads at night.

 

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