Cutting itf ine
Eating more veg means knowing how to prep it better. Take two minutes to upgrade your five-a-day
If your fruit and veg intake starts and stops at a banana with your breakfast porridge and a lunchtime jacket potato, it’s time to fix up and look sharp. By learning to prepare different greens faster you’ll expand both your options and your palate. What’s more, you only need to learn a handful of easy techniques to feel like a pro at the chopping board – and Michelin-starred chef Adam Gray is here to take you through them.
ONIONS HALVE AND DICE
You probably chop more onions than almost anything else, so you might as well get the technique right. “Chop off the ‘nose’ – the bit at the opposite of the stem – then slice it in half, right through the stem, and peel off the skin,” says Gray. Now the tricky bit. “Put the onion half flat on the board and press down with the flat of your hand as you slice through it, with the blade parallel to the board.” Now make a few vertical incisions along the length of the onion, and finally cut perpendicular to those to get a fine dice.
Cook them for a few minutes in a pan, with oil or butter, to kick off almost any stew or casserole recipe. Or don’t – red onions are naturally sweeter, so you can put them in salads raw.
PEPPERS TOP, CHOP AND ROLL
There’s an easy way to take out all the seeds and ribs, with minimal hassle. First, slice off the top and bottom, then make a vertical slice down the pepper so you can open it up. Put it skin-side down and work the knife along the inside with your blade parallel to the work surface, removing the extraneous bits as you go. Now chop it into strips or chunks.
Cook them in scrambled eggs, omelettes or stir-fries – or you can eat them raw.
LEEKS SLICE THEM EASY
“You need a very sharp knife for this,” says Gray. “If it’s blunt the fibres get jagged, which means you’ll lose nutrients in the cooking process.” Pull off the outer layer, then use your finest blade to halve your leek by slicing it down the middle, making a half-cylinder. Now slice it as finely as possible. “People throw away too much of the leek, because the green bits seem too tough after they’re cooked,” says Gray. “But that’s because they’re not slicing it fine enough.”
Cook them in a dash of rapeseed oil, with some chorizo or salami for the simplest of side dishes.
CABBAGE BETTER OFF SHRED
You can use more of the outer leaves than you think, if you use the technique known as “chiffonading”. Remove any obviously damaged leaves and cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters. Cut off the hard core from each quarter at an angle, then tear off the leaves and roll them up into cigar shapes to fine-chop them. With a well-designed knife, the easiest way is to “roll” it: keep the very tip of the blade on the cutting board and rock it backwards and forwards as you feed the cabbage through with your other hand.
Cook them with sausages and lentils for healthy comfort food – or just chuck them in a salad.