I swore blind I wouldn’t buy a spiraliser. Who needs one, I sniffed to Him Outdoors, when we’ve got perfectly good knives/vegetable peelers/a mandolin. It’ll just gather dust at the back of a shelf, I said. Knowing my weakness for kitchen gadgets, he merely raised an eyebrow. And sure enough, I cracked.
I have been playing with it all week. Mine’s a bit plastic-y and it needs two hands to operate it, one to turn and the other to anchor it to the work surface (its rubber feet don’t work that well on my chopping block) but its three blades are razor-sharp.
When you spiralise something you’re left with the core which doesn’t go through the machine and the last bit of whatever you’re processing – what is left over is an odd mushroom-shaped bit which you can use in soups or stocks or which you can get creative with (you’re on your own there).
I believe many people use these machines to make what has become known as ‘courgetti’ – a healthy spaghetti look-alike which you usually fry briefly and dress with a suitable sauce – but as Him Outdoors regards courgettes and pasta with equal loathing I bypassed this.
I started – like most people, I suspect – by spiralising the entire contents of the vegetable drawer. Courgettes, yellow and green; radishes; carrots; fat spirals; thin spirals and – er – flat, thin ribbony spirals. The result was a rather boring, directionless salad which because I dressed it too soon collapsed into a mulch.
I also tried spiralising baby fennel bulbs from the garden, which wasn’t very successful because they were too loose. You do need a firm vegetable or fruit for successful spiralising. I ended up slicing the leftovers finely by hand but they were good in a tomato salad with a balsamic dressing.
My next attempt was rather more successful, a crunchy, punchy kohlrabi remoulade. Kohlrabi are those bulbous aliens you often get in vegetable boxes. They look like a cross between a Sputnik and Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors.
They taste rather like a very mild radish but prepared raw are pleasingly crisp and fresh and a good vehicle for a strong dressing. If I’d had a crisp, sharp eating apple handy I would have included it in this salad and if you don’t have kohlrabi, try celeriac instead.
Then I rebelled against the whole raw food, healthy eating spiraliser trend and made something that involved starch, fats and protein in abundance – recipe next week.
1 small cricket ball sized kohlrabi, peeled
A small handful of smoked bacon lardons, cooked (optional)
1 tspn made English mustard
2 tspn white balsamic vinegar
2 tspn white wine vinegar (or double up on this and add some sugar)
Pinch of salt
Enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a thick emulsion
A small handful of chopped parsley or par-cel
A squeeze of lemon juice if you think the dressing isn’t sharp enough
If you’re using the lardons, fry them briefly until they’re cooked and a bit frizzled, blot on kitchen paper and set aside.
Put the mustard in a bowl and whisk in the vinegars, then the oil, until you have a thickish emulsion. Add the chopped herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper and more vinegar or lemon juice if necessary.
Put the kohlrabi through the smallest of the spiraliser blades or cut it into thin matchsticks. Toss it in the dressing, scatter over the lardons, if using, and serve straight away.