100 Techniques

Technique #46: Give Vegetables a Close Shave to Tenderize Them

The thinner the better! All you need is a mandoline, peeler, or a chef's knife.

Published Sept. 16, 2023.

This is Technique #46 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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Raw vegetables don’t need to be relegated to green salads or crudités platters. One of our favorite easy techniques for preparing delicious vegetable dishes without cooking them is to shave them so thin that they become naturally tenderized.

Shaving expands your raw-vegetable horizons, since this method can be used with soft vegetables like zucchini as well as chewier vegetables like mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and even vegetables you might not think you can eat raw, like beets.

It’s more versatile than spiralizing vegetables into “noodles” because it accommodates any shape or texture of vegetable.

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No Special Equipment Required

While a mandoline can be useful, you don’t need one—or any other special equipment. With just a sharp vegetable peeler, you can turn zucchini into long, silky ribbons that retain their delicate texture and fresh flavor. Slicing Brussels sprouts very thinly by hand causes them to have a softer chew. You can even shave raw beets for a salad or slaw using a vegetable peeler.

Soften Tough Vegetables Even Further

Chewier, tougher vegetables take to this technique brilliantly. The shaved vegetables can be tossed with a room-temperature dressing and then allowed to rest, which will help tenderize them even further and brighten and enhance their flavors. (Although with softer vegetables such as zucchini, you will most likely want to serve the finished dish promptly, lest these more delicate shaved ribbons become too soft.)

And a warm vinaigrette poured over and tossed with raw vegetables can be yet another way to speed up the softening process.

Watch Culinary Director Erin McMurrer demonstrate how to make a Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette.

Step By Step: How to Make Zucchini Ribbons With a Vegetable Peeler

If you don't have a mandoline, just grab a peeler and follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Start With One Side

Shave zucchini lengthwise into 2 thin ribbons on one side.

Step 2: Rotate and Continue

Rotate squash 90 degrees and repeat on next side. Continue rotating and peeling squash into thin ribbons until you reach seedy core. Discard core.

Step By Step: How to Make Zucchini Ribbons With a Mandoline

Rather use a mandoline? Go for it. Here's how to do it.

Adjust, Slice, Rotate, Repeat

Adjust mandoline to thinnest setting and then run zucchini lengthwise down mandoline twice to create 2 long, even ribbons. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat on next side. Continue until you reach seedy core. Discard core.

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Step By Step: How to Shave Brussels Sprouts

Take the toughness out of raw brussels sprouts with this easy technique.

Step 1: Trim

Trim ends and halve sprouts.

Step 2: Slice

Slice sprouts as thinly as possible using chef’s knife.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Ready to shave some vegetables and put them to use? Try it with these recipes.


Zucchini Ribbon Greek-Style Salad

An easy late-summer twist on a familiar classic.
Get the Recipe

Shaved Salad with Pan-Seared Scallops

Mexican salads inspired this combination of sweet mango, crisp cucumber, jicama, peppery radish, and spicy jalapeño.
Get the Recipe

Shaved Celery Salad with Pomegranate-Honey Vinaigrette

This fresh, light salad employs both celery ribs and celery root.
Get the Recipe

Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Salads made with these hearty leaves can be a lot to chew on. We fixed that.
Get the Recipe

Shaved Asparagus, Prosciutto, and Duxelles Tartines

Classic French recipes inspire a trio of carefully crafted, endlessly elegant tartines.
Get the Recipe

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