Smarter ways to chop fruits and vegetables
Because of their sometimes odd shapes, fruits and vegetables can be difficult to chop and slice evenly — and efficiently. Here are some smarter ways to combat the trickiest parts of breaking down your produce. First, try using something other than a knife. A mandolin is an obvious choice for very small or very thin yet sturdy veggies, like carrots and radishes. But for something low-tech, try taking a vegetable peeler to both of these vegetables. Simply run the peeler along the carrot or radish horizontally, instead of vertically down like you would when peeling it. That will result in thin slices suitable for salads, sandwich toppings and more.
Another trick for cutting small produce items like grapes or cherry tomatoes is to place them all on a surface with a lip, whether that's a plate or a cutting board or even a medium-sized plastic lid — anything that will prevent them from rolling around the counter. Place the produce in a single layer, then top with a second surface (the lid would work best here) and hold it gently with one hand. Use the other hand to run a serrated or very sharp knife through the fruit or vegetables, going horizontally through the two surfaces so the food is cut in half. It's a quicker way to cut a bunch of small items.
And another hack to make sure those knives you're using are up to the task: Try running it through a piece of paper. Hold one end with your left hand, then drag the knife through the middle of the paper with your right hand. It should go smoothly through the paper without snagging. If it snags or fails to go through the paper, your knife needs to be sharpened.
Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor