Cut up Vegetables and Herbs

Cut Up Vegetables And Herbs

The best way to cut up vegetables depends on their size and shape and how you're going to use them. Usually, they are chopped, diced, minced, or sliced. Occasionally, they are shredded or julienne. How do you decide whether to chop, slice or julienne?

Chopping usually means to cut foods into smaller pieces of no particular shape and no particular size. Chop vegetables and herbs when appearance isn't important, or when the vegetables will be strained out of a sauce or broth and not served. Generally, vegetables are chopped larger for longer-cooking dishes and smaller for shorter-cooking dishes. Mincing simply means to finely chop, and it is used for dishes that cook very quickly, or when you want to leave the minced food in the dish, as in a pan sauce.

Dicing means exactly what it sounds like, cutting the food into cubes, like dice. Dice when appearance is important. The French give different names, such as brunoise and macedoine, to refer to different-sized dice.

Shred, julienne and chiffonade all mean to cut into thin strips. Leafy vegetables such as cabbage are shredded; leafy herbs and greens such as basil and spinach are cut into chiffonade. And other vegetables, such as root vegetables, are cut into julienne. Julienning is the first step in cutting a vegetable into the tiny dice called brunoise.

Vegetables may also be cut into larger shapes to be used as garniture for braises, roasts and stews or for serving on their own. Vegetables such as turnips and fennel are often cut into wedges. Vegetables can also be "turned", which means to trim the vegetable into an attractive oval shape with rounded sides.

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