In salads, we often favor leafy greens over robust raw vegetables. But a simple shaving technique transforms sturdy vegetables into a perfectly tender salad base primed to absorb tons of flavor—no special equipment needed.
Using either a sharp vegetable peeler (we prefer a Y-style peeler, but any variety works) or a mandoline, we slice vegetables such as carrots, radishes and zucchini into thin strips or shavings. This creates tender strips of otherwise tough produce to stand in for—or be combined with—the usual greens. And those shavings have ample surface area, ideal for absorbing dressings and seasonings.
Though the technique is simple, we recommend a few vegetable-specific tips. For carrots and zucchini, we shave them lengthwise one side at a time, rotating as we go, until we hit the core, which we discard. For smaller vegetables, such as radishes and Brussels sprouts, we use the stem end as a handle when slicing to keep fingertips safe. The mandoline is particularly good for both. Also try this technique with firm pears and fennel bulbs.
For particularly tough vegetables, such as carrots, we sometimes also microwave the shavings on high until wilted but still tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. This not only softens them, it also helps them absorb more dressing as they cool.