The F.N. Sharp Guide to Prepping Fall Vegetables
With fall in full swing, those knives are slicing through some of those hard and starchy veggies that come to our tables around this time of year. And with the holidays right around the corner, you might want to do an inventory check to make sure you have the right tools for those big holiday get-togethers. To help you with a little bit of holiday meal planning, let’s go over the best options for cold season vegetables and which knives you'll need to keep on hand.
Here's what you'll learn in this guide:How to Prep the Leafy & Cruciferous
Jump into Fall and Winter Veggie Prep With This F.N. Sharp Guide
When most people think of fall and winter veggies, the first thing that might come to mind is hard winter squash, which covers several varieties including pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, among others. But there is actually a plethora of fall vegetables that are just as common and sometimes overlooked – yet just as seasonally delicious!
Those hard vegetables will need a larger and more substantial knife, while some others may need a smaller knife with a little extra finesse. No need to stress, though, because this guide will not only give you a full rundown on fall and winter vegetables, but also a list of the essential tools you'll need to get the job done.
Now, first things first: let’s talk about those kitchen knives…
Which Knives to Use for Prepping Fall and Winter Vegetables
When it comes to prepping fall and winter veggies, having a few different types of knives on hand can be super helpful for whipping up delicious fall creations. The most important task is making sure your knives are sharp enough. If you’re not sure they’re up to the task, then check out these top signs of a dull kitchen knife.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best knives for prepping those cold season veggies!
The Chef’s Knife
The Western-style chef’s knife is a must-have when it comes to prepping those fall and winter veggies. With a blade length measuring anywhere between 8 to 12 inches, it’s bigger and a bit heavier than the other knives you’ll find in a kitchen knife set. It comes with a hefty heel that makes it ideal for cutting through tough or dense veggies like butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and other winter squash varieties, as well as carrots and potatoes.
The chef’s knife is also a great option for quickly slicing and dicing other fall and winter veggies, thanks to its curved belly. This design allows you to perform all types of knife cuts and techniques, particularly the “rock chop”, which makes slicing through ingredients a breeze once you get the hang of it.
Knife Knowledge 101: How to Use a Chef's Knife
The Santoku Knife
For recipes that call for cutting veggies into precise, uniform cuts, the Japanese-style chef’s knife is the way to go. Known as the Santoku knife, this kitchen tool features a uniquely-designed blade that resembles the shape of a sheep’s foot. Another unique trait is its Granton edge, which is designed to prevent ingredients from sticking to the blade between cuts.
When it comes to using the Santoku knife to prep fall veggies, think of perfectly sliced or minced garlic, matchstick carrots, thinly sliced mushrooms and a uniformly sliced veggie medley for a colorfully delicious ratatouille.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Santoku Knife
The Paring Knife
A must-have for any kitchen, the small but mighty paring knife is your best option for tasks that involve in-hand, detailed work like peeling potatoes and other veggies. It’s also a great choice for slicing up some of the smaller fall and winter veggies like radishes, carrots and parsnips.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Paring Knife
The Bread Knife
While its name may state otherwise, the bread knife can come in handy for slicing through dense winter veggies if your chef’s knife isn’t sharp enough for the job. The saw-like serrations along its cutting edge can help make cutting through thick-skinned and/or dense veggies a little easier as it works just like a saw, rather than using downward pressure like you would with the chef's knife.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Bread Knife
The Utility Knife
Just like the chef’s knife, the utility kitchen knife offers plenty of uses in the kitchen. This mid-sized knife comes in super handy for small- to medium-sized fall veggies like onions, carrots, turnips and radishes, as well as for removing the ribs from Napa cabbage and chopping up smaller bunches of leafy greens. While utility kitchen knives are usually one of two serrated knives included in a set, a straight-edged utility knife can do the job just the same, as long as it’s sharp.
Now let’s get to the veggies!
Oh My Gourd, Winter Squashes
Starting with the fall showcase of all veggies, winter squashes offer the perfect picture of fall when conjured up mentally (or googled). While some may call gourds "squashes" and vice versa, there’s actually a big difference: most gourds are non-edible and are solely used for fall decor, while most squashes can be eaten in some shape or form.
If you’re familiar with winter squashes, then you know they’re the toughest veggies to slice through. But fear not, dear chef, because with the right tools and just a little bit of confidence, you’ll be slaying these tough veggies like a boss! Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular squashes to enjoy during the cool season months…
According to the Acorn
A winter squash that needs more attention, the acorn squash is packed full of vitamins, nutrients and a slightly sweet flavor. Its shape also makes it a super pretty veggie when sliced up, almost like little flowers that are perfect oven-roasted or air-fried! You can also slice it in half and roast in the oven with some butter and spices, much like the other squashes on this list.
When picking out acorn squash, make sure it’s heavy for its size and has smooth skin that is free of any soft spots and has a nice balance of orange and green tones. When it comes to cutting through this pretty veggie, you’ll definitely need the chef’s knife, or you can cheat a little and make cutting through it a little easier by piercing the skin in a few places and microwaving for about 2 minutes. Just give it a couple more minutes to cool down before holding in place for slicing.
Next, simply slice it into halves or pretty slices, or chop the slices into smaller pieces if that’s what your recipe calls for. The skin is also edible, but if you prefer not to eat it, then try heating it up or cooking before peeling and it should come right off with ease.
Butternut Forget This Squash
Best known for its bright orange flesh, butternut squash is one of the most popular of all the winter squashes. This long and dense veggie tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato when roasted, but with a slightly nutty flavor.
When picking out butternut squash, look for an even cream color with no soft spots. Just like the acorn squash, you’ll also want to make sure it's firm and heavy for its size. When it comes to slicing through it, you’ll definitely want the Western chef’s knife for its length and heft.
Before cutting into the butternut squash, be sure to give it a good rinse before cutting in half lengthwise (there’s no need to peel the skin, unless you really want to). Once cut in half, you can use a spoon to remove the inner fibers and seeds, then either brush the flesh with some oil, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and roast in the oven (or try it with some butter and brown sugar, like with this recipe). You can also slice or dice it up into smaller pieces or whatever your recipe calls for.
Butter Me Up Buttercup Squash
Yet another overlooked winter squash is the buttercup squash. This sweet little veggie resembles an edible pumpkin (more on that soon), except the skin is green in appearance like the acorn squash. Its orangey flesh is best described as sweet and creamy, making it the perfect healthy snack to satisfy your sweet tooth.
it’s ripe and ready to eat. Avoid any with mushy caps, as they’re probably past their prime. When it comes to cutting through it, again you’ll want to grab that chef’s knife and treat it like the other squashes on this list by cutting in half and scooping at the seeds with a spoon. You can then roast the halves in the oven or slice them up into smaller pieces.
Delectable Delicata Squash
Another sweet fall veggie that deserves the spotlight, delicata squash is cylindrical in shape and cream-colored in appearance with green or orange stripes along the length of the skin, which indicates it’s ripe and ready to eat!
When it comes to slicing through the delicata squash, grab that chef’s knife and either cut into slices or simply slice in half and remove the inner fibers and seeds. From there, you can brush the flesh with some butter or oil, sprinkle on some salt and/or other spices and roast it in the oven – or, you can get even more creative and stuff it with some ground meat and spices for a hearty meal!
Slice Up a Delicata Squash for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash With Parmesan Crisps
Pick the Pumpkins
If you’ve never had roasted pumpkin before, then you’re definitely missing out! Unfortunately for Americans, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word “pumpkin” (aside from pumpkin-spiced, you know, everything) is the image of a candle-lit jack-o-lantern. This is definitely not the type of pumpkin we’re talking about here. We’re talking about truly edible pumpkins, and there are several different types to choose from (if you can find them).
When choosing pumpkins, look for one that has a dry, brown stem that feels well-attached and smooth skin free of bruises, soft spots or deep knicks. When it comes to slicing through pumpkin, the chef’s knife will be your best friend! Be sure to give it a good scrub before you start, then simply cut it in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds (and save for roasting!), then roast, slice or dice it up as you please.
Try Pureeing Some Pumpkin for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Pumpkin Ravioli With Parmesan Cream Sauce
Hubba Hubbard Squash
One of the largest winter squashes on this list, Hubbard squash measures around a foot wide and weighs anywhere between 5 to 50 pounds! The skin looks and feels bumpy to the touch and may appear yellow, orange, dark green or a pale blue-green.
The flesh of Hubbard squash appears yellow or orange, much like the other winter squashes. And while it also offers a sweet flavor, the texture is a bit more grainy than other squashes, making it more ideal for soups or recipes that call for pureeing. Just like the other winter squashes, salt, butter and brown sugar bring out the best flavor.
When it comes to cutting up a Hubbard squash, you’ll need the hefty chef’s knife. If you can manage to cut through the tough skin, try slicing a sliver off of the side to give you a flat surface to work with, then cut into halves, spoon out the seeds and fibers, and roast as is (with some butter and whichever spices you prefer), or break the halves down into slices or chunks.
If the squash is particularly large, you have a couple of options for cutting through the thing. You can try wrapping it in a towel and giving it a good whack on the floor. If that doesn’t work and you can’t get your knife through it, your best bet is to bake it whole. Be sure to use your paring knife to pierce the skin on all sides to prevent it from exploding in your oven, then bake for about an hour at 400 degrees.
Speaking of Spaghetti Squash
Ah, that aptly named winter squash that has made enjoying low-carb “pasta” dishes a bit easier in recent years – the spaghetti squash. While this is one of the best squashes for enjoying a veggie-packed alternative to classic spaghetti and other pastas, it’s also one of the hardest to cut through.
Measuring up to about a foot long and weighing anywhere between 4 and 8 pounds, spaghetti squash appears creamy yellow on the outside, with lighter flesh on the inside. When cooked, the flesh separates into long strands, giving it that spaghetti-like appearance.
When it comes to cutting through this super tough veggie, you’ll definitely want the long blade and hefty heel of the chef’s knife, or the serrated blade of the bread knife. Be sure to give the squash a good rinse and pat dry before cutting into it. Then, carefully cut it in half either lengthwise or crosswise and remove the pulp and seeds.
When spaghetti squash is cut in half lengthwise, you’ll have perfect little “boats” for stuffing with meat sauce and cheese, or whatever you fancy. However, cutting it in half crosswise may be a little easier and will also give you longer strands. If roasting the halves in the oven, be sure to brush them with some oil and sprinkle with salt and/or spices, then place them skin-side up on a baking pan lined with foil.
Rooting for the Roots
Onions, carrots and beets are commonly known root vegetables, but fall also brings in more unusual and often forgotten root veggies that should really be staples in our warming meals. Turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, and kohlrabi are just a few more options that could (and should) pepper the table in colder months.
Whether they’re roasted or tossed in winter salads, paired with those bitter chicories or a crunchy cabbage, these hard, underground vegetables need a tough knife. The Western chef’s knife will be your best bet for any of these roots, but the Santoku, utility or paring knife can also come in handy.
A good tip for prepping root vegetables is cutting off a small slice from the top, bottom or sides to give you a flat surface to work with. But, if you’re working with hardened roots with rough skins such as celeriac and kohlrabi, it’s best to use the chef’s knife to cut downwards along the sides after making sure they’re safely balanced on a flat surface.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of fall’s favorite root vegetables.
Gimme a Beet!
Ah the beet – a hard and fibrous veggie that will stain your hands and tastes of the earth in which it grows. People either love 'em or hate 'em, but one thing is for sure, it’s a one-of-kind veggie!
When it comes to preparing beets, there are two options for slicing, along with a few different knives to choose from. If you plan on cutting into raw beets, you need a good chef’s knife to get through these tough veggies with ease. Whether you reach for a Western or Japanese chef knife, either will do – although the Santoku knife may be best if your recipe calls for thinly sliced beets for roasting, like with this recipe.
Your other option for slicing through this tough veggie is a method commonly used in restaurants, which involves cooking before prepping. Whether roasting or boiling, this method is ideal if you want to use cooked and chopped beets in a recipe, as you can easily peel them using a paring knife. Once peeled, the beets are no longer a hard, starchy obstacle to wrestle, and the paring knife – or any sharp knife – will smoothly slice right through!
Don’t Cry for Me Onions
Onions will forever be on your kitchen counter for use in all seasons and cuisines. Fall cooking, however, is the epicenter of onion flavor, from sauces, stews and soups to chili recipes and flavoring meats for various dishes. Fall onions can also be used as the star ingredient in many dishes, or simply roasted as a side dish since they’re at their best after a long summer of growing sweet.
Now let’s talk about how to prep these eye-watering bulbs (without crying). Get that cutting board ready and make sure your knife is sharp. Onions have a small layer called a membrane that keeps the inside layers moist and slimy. These little layers are the reason you start crying when you cut up a particularly strong onion – and why the knife may slip if it’s not sharp enough.
The chef’s knife is the ideal tool for slicing, chopping, and dicing the many varieties of onions and getting them ready for the baking sheet, but the Santoku or utility knife will work just as well. You can try cutting the onion in half to roast with other fall flavors, or slice them up and roast them with other fall favorites like winter squash and mushrooms.
There’s something so satisfying about watching an onion being diced, but also something so intimidating when you’re still mastering your knife skills. Having a sharp knife is essential to wrangling the onion.
Check out the videos below to see how to cut onions using either a Western chef’s knife or Japanese Santoku:
Make Those Onions Cry With These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Caramelized Onion Dip
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🔪 Instant Pot Butter Chicken
🔪 Instant Pot Arroz con Pollo
🔪 Smoky & Spicy Instant Pot Turkey Chili
Care for Some Carrots and Parsnips?
As you chop, dice, slice or mince carrots, you can get by using one knife for the job or change it up with different knives for different purposes. You’ll use the same knives for parsnips, as well, though the likelihood of a recipe calling for minced or diced parsnips is quite low.
The best overall choice for cutting your carrots or parsnips in a variety of ways is either a Western chef’s knife or Japanese Santoku, while the paring knife does come in handy for peeling. The chef’s knife can make quick work out of a variety of knife cuts, from julienned to baton, while the Santoku is perfect for recipes that call for very precise, uniform cuts. In a pinch, you can also use the utility knife, it just may take a little longer since carrots and parsnips are tough veggies
Check out the videos below to see how to slice and chop carrots into different types of knife cuts:
Cut Up Some Carrots for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Chicken Tortilla Soup
Plenty of Room for Potatoes
A favorite of fall vegetables is, obviously, the potato – because what would Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes and sweet potato pie?
Potatoes come in several varieties, from your standard Russet and sweet potatoes to red potatoes, Yukon gold or yellow potatoes, and even gourmet purple potatoes. With a sharp knife on hand, they can be peeled and/or cut in a variety of ways.
When choosing your knife for this job, the weight and size are the most important aspects to keep in mind. When it comes to peeling, you’ll want to reach for that handy little paring knife, of course, but when it comes to slicing up these babies, you’ll definitely want the heft of a chef’s knife. Which style chef’s knife works best? Either the Western or Japanese-style will work, though the weight and size of the Western knife may be easier to handle if you’re dicing up potatoes for roasting. But if you’re slicing thinly or into strips, the Japanese Santoku offers just the right precision.
Just remember those potatoes are hard and starchy, so you may want to keep a damp rag on hand to wipe the blade between slices since the starches can stick to the blade, making cutting through large batches more time-consuming. And, of course, make sure that knife is sharp! When applying the heavy pressure necessary to cut through potatoes, you’ll want that blade to slice right through without slipping (and cutting something other than the potato).
Cut Up Some Potatoes for These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Sheet Pan Sambal Chicken and Potatoes
🔪 Espagnole T-Bone Steak & Potatoes
🔪 MasterChef-Worthy Steak & Sweet Potato Hash
🔪 Splendiferous Veggie Soup
🔪 Japanese-Style Potato Salad
Also categorized as a cruciferous veggie, radishes offer a peppery flavor and the perfect crunch factor for topping off salads, bowls, flatbreads, and more! They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from long and narrow to short and round. The outer skin also comes in a variety of different colors, including red, purple, pink, yellow, white and even black. These root vegetables are also packed with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C and those needed antioxidants.
For topping off your favorite salad or bowl, try slicing them into pretty little circles, half circles, or matchsticks. You can also try dicing them up to add some extra flavor and crunch to dips and slaws.
Cut Up Some Radishes for These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Easy Korean Beef Bulgogi Bowl
🔪 Instant Pot Pulled Pork with Radish Jalapeno Slaw
🔪 Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
🔪 Homemade Tzatziki Sauce With Herbed Pita Chips
Turnip for What
As close relatives of radishes and arugula, turnips are a member of the mustard family. The bulb appears white and purple in color, with bright green shoots from the top, and all of which are edible and delicious. You’ll find they give off a slightly spicy flavor, much like the radish. Although turnips are available year-round, they offer the best flavor during the cooler seasons, while the larger varieties are best peeled first as they can give off a bitter aftertaste.
When it comes to cutting turnips, the knife you use really depends on the veggie’s size, so you can opt for either the chef’s knife, Santoku or utility knife, and maybe even the little paring knife. Just be sure to give them a good rinse, peel away any attached greens and trim off dangling roots. Slicing off just a sliver of the flesh from where the roots attach will give you a nice flat surface to work with, then you can cut into slices, wedges or dices, as needed.
Try eating turnip bulbs raw and cut into sticks or slices for salads, roasted in the oven with other veggies, mashed like potatoes or added to your favorite soups and stews. You can even try cutting them into bigger sticks and baking or air-frying for another alternative to potato fries! As for the greens, you can prepare them just like you would with other leafy greens.
Rooting for Rutabaga
Considered a sweet veggie, rutabaga is actually a hybrid between a turnip and wild cabbage that looks like a giant turnip, but appears more yellowish in color. This nutrient-packed veggie offers a slightly bitter, yet sweet flavor when eaten raw. Cooked rutabaga also retains its sweetness while also giving off a more savory flavor, much like a rich potato. For those on a low-carb diet, this root veggie makes a great alternative to the potato.
When it comes to prepping rutabaga, you’ll need to peel back the skin much like you would with the onion. Just keep in mind, the skin is a bit waxy and easier to remove if you cut it in half or slice a piece off of the side, which also gives you a flat surface to work with. Since these hybrids are larger than the turnip, you’ll want to reach for either a chef’s knife or Santoku to slice them into circles, wedges or even sticks to be air-fried and served as an alternative to potato fries.
Loving the Leafy and Cruciferous
While fall is known for bringing on the beautiful colors and delicious veggies, it’s also known for bringing on the cold and flu season. So when it comes to getting in all of those needed vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy, you’ll definitely want to pack those meals with the leafy and cruciferous! These veggies are known for being packed full of vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as beta-carotene, calcium, folate, fiber and other minerals.
We’re talking broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and all of the leafy green (and sometimes reddish-purple) fall and winter veggies! While many of these on the list may be available year-round, they are the freshest during these cold season months.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these must-eat veggies to include in your fall and winter meal planning.
All About Arugula
A member of the cabbage and mustard green family, arugula offers a somewhat tart, spicy and peppery flavor to top off salads and flatbreads, or you can try blending it into dips and sauces like pesto. When cooked, you’ll see the result resembles the texture of cooked spinach.
Much like fresh herbs, arugula comes in bunches, so you’ll want to give them a little rinse and pat dry before cooking them up or topping off your favorite dish. The knife you choose is up to you, but for larger bunches, we recommend the chef’s knife or Santoku.
Bring on the Brussels Sprouts
Oh Brussels sprouts – you either hate ‘em or you love ‘em. These tiny cabbages are usually sold loose but you can be found sold on the stalk, which is the better option if you’re not cooking them right away since the stalk helps keep them fresh for several weeks when chilled.
When it comes to preparing Brussels sprouts, you’ll want to give them a good rinse and pat dry, then trim off the ends and peel off any dark green leaves. Since this veggie is tiny but mighty, you can use whatever type of knife you feel most comfortable with if your recipe calls for slicing them into halves.
Cut Up Some Brussels Sprouts for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Instant Pot Asian Honey Chicken
Holy Broccoli and Cauliflower!
Ah, broccoli and cauliflower– the fiber and vitamin-packed veggies that look like tiny trees. We’re all familiar with the bright green appearance of broccoli and the plain white appearance of cauliflower, but did you know you can also find them in different colors like purple and orange?
Both members of the mustard family, these veggies have become another staple in low-carb diets as they can be prepared as an alternative to rice and pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, and can even be used as an alternative to bread for pizza and flatbreads! So, instead of buying frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower, try picking up a head and cutting it up yourself. When choosing broccoli, just make sure the head is firm with closed florets and dark green in color, and for cauliflower, avoid florets with brown spots.
When it comes to cutting whole cauliflower, the chef’s knife is your best choice as the heads can be quite large and a little tough to cut through. Begin by giving it a good rinse and pat dry, then peel back or trim off the green leaves before cutting it in half from side to side, then continue cutting into individual stalks with florets attached. Like broccoli, both the florets and stalks are edible, but if you plan on making riced broccoli or cauliflower, then you’ll definitely want to cut off as much of the stalk as possible to get the desired rice-like texture and appearance.
Grab the Cabbage
A versatile and common fall veggie, cabbage is used both cooked and raw in a variety of ways and comes in a variety of types, from red and green to Napa, savoy and bok choy.
The density of cabbage doesn’t make it difficult to cut up, but the size makes a difference here. For slicing through a large cabbage head, the length of the Western chef’s knife is perfect for slicing through the whole head without having to chop through and flounder in the middle. The pointed tip is a nice addition here, as well, because it’s helpful when scaling the stem or core out of the head. For Napa cabbage, you can even use the utility or paring knife to trace and remove its ribs.
Cut Up Some Cabbage for These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Chicken & Veggie Potstickers with Spicy Sesame Dipping Sauce
🔪 Japanese-Style Hamburger Steaks with Pickled Cabbage
🔪 Fried Cabbage and Bacon Hand Pies
Often mistaken for red cabbage, radicchio is an herbaceous plant in the chicory family. Its leaves are reddish-purple with white veins, and its shape can be round or elongated in appearance, much like a head of cabbage. It also has a somewhat spicy but distinctive bitter flavor and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked down, which helps mellow its bitterness and gives it more of a sweet flavor. You can try roasting it in the oven, sauteeing on the stove, slow-cooking in a stew or even cooking on the grill thanks to its high heat tolerance.
Just like cabbage, the chef’s knife is ideal for cutting radicchio, thanks to its longer blade and pointed tip. However, the Santoku knife performs just as well for cutting into slices, wedges, or whatever your recipe calls for. When cutting through this bitter veggie, you may find it’s a little tougher to slice through than cabbage, but you can still prep it in no time. Just be sure to give it a good rinse, peel back the outer leaves and trim off any brown spots from the stem before cutting.
Cut Up Some Radicchio for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Steakhouse Chopped Salad With Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing
Color Me Collard Greens
A staple in Southern cooking, collard greens are closely related to kale, cabbage and mustard greens, making them another leafy green veggie packed with flavor and nutrients. Their leaves appear bright green with white veins throughout. Known for their heartiness, collard greens play particularly well in dishes with both smoked and salted meats like bacon and ham hocks, but are also great on their own in salads or cooked down with spices.
When it comes to cutting collard greens, you can opt for the chef’s knife, Santoku or utility knife for rough chopping. Just be sure to trim off the stems as they can be quite tough and a little chewy, especially when cooked.
Oh Kale Yeah!
Kale’s popularity has soared in recent years thanks to low-carb and whole food diets, as well as a general shift towards eating healthier. Unlike iceberg lettuce, kale packs in a ton of nutrients, from vitamins and minerals to complex carbohydrates and fiber, making it even more popular for salads.
While there are several varieties of kale that offer different colors and textures, it’s most commonly known for its deep green leaves that may appear bumpy or even curly, depending on the variety. with white or lighter green veins throughout. In terms of flavor, kale has a bit of a bitter and strong earthy taste.
When it comes to cutting kale, the type of knife you use and how you cut it all depends on the variety, but the chef’s knife, Santoku or utility knife all come in handy. Both the leaves and stems are edible, so how you cut it depends on your recipe. You can dice the stems and roughly chop the leaves to add to a salad, or even use the chiffonade technique to get pretty ribbons of green. If you’re unfamiliar with this technique, then check out the video below to see it in action:
Like with most veggies, be sure to give kale a good rinse and pat dry before preparing. And if you plan on adding raw kale to a salad, you can cut through the bitterness by marinating in some dressing, which will soften it up a bit, as well.
Chop Up Some Kale for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪Sweet & Savory Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl
Must Have the Mustard Greens
Another leafy green related to collard greens, cabbage, kale and spinach, mustard greens are commonly used in Asian cooking. Like their relatives, they offer a peppery flavor that’s actually a bit more distinct. You can eat them raw in a salad for extra peppery flavor, and cook them down as a deliciously healthy side dish. When cooked, they taste a lot like spinach.
When picking out mustard greens, look for bright green leaves and avoid any that appear yellow or wilted. When it comes to cutting this leafy green, the chef’s knife, Santoku and utility knife all come in handy for both rough-chopping and chiffonading. Just be sure to swirl them around in cool water to remove any dirt before cutting.
Cheering for Chard
One of the prettiest veggies on this list, chard comes with green leaves and brightly colored stems and veins. Swiss chard leaves may appear dark green with white or reddish-purple stems and veins, while Rainbow chard comes with bright green leaves and colored stems in red, pink, orange, yellow and white.
Both chard varieties give off an earthy and somewhat bitter flavor when eaten raw, and just like some of the other leafy greens on this list, they taste like spinach when cooked down. When rough-chopping or chiffonading these pretty greens, you’ll once again reach for that chef’s, Santoku or utility knife.
Feeling the Fungi
Although most people think of mushrooms as a type of veggie, they actually come from the fungi family. Despite the confusion, they still make it to the top of the list for cold season produce.
While several different varieties can be found year-round in grocery stores, this is the season of fresh 'shrooms! During fall, when the air is cool and the ground is lush with falling leaves, the moisture in the ground leads to the sprouting of seasonal wild mushrooms. This means those baby bellas and creminis should be left on the shelves as you reach for some of nature’s fall favorites like chanterelle, oyster, porcini, trumpet, and so many more.
When using mushrooms in dishes, you may want to slice or at least break down the large varieties of these fungi in order to meet your needs. For this task, you’ll want to have a paring knife, utility knife and a chef’s or Santoku knife on hand.
A fall favorite, and anytime delicious crowd pleaser, stuffed mushrooms are easy to prepare using the paring knife to hollow out those round cups. Then simply pop off the stems or use the paring knife to clean them out before stuffing them full of your favorite ingredients.
When it’s time to start slicing, grab that utility knife and make sure it’s sharp enough to easily slice right through the soft, sponge-like fungi without tearing it apart. Using a utility knife when breaking down mushrooms into slices or smaller pieces is ideal as their small size won’t be a hindrance when holding them in place, like you might encounter when using a larger knife.
If you don’t have a utility knife on hand, then no worries! You can still use the chef’s knife, or even the Santoku, just with a little extra care. The best advice for using a chef’s knife while cutting mushrooms, though, is to keep it sharp! Using a dull knife on these naturally slippery veggies can be a dangerous endeavor. At the very least, the knife may break the mushrooms and leave less than desirable looking pieces for the masterpiece intended.
A Final Word on Preparing Fall and Winter Veggies
If you can only have one knife for slicing through your favorite fall and winter vegetables, the chef’s knife is the obvious way to go! But if you’d like to have other options on hand, then check out the F.N. Sharp 6-knife set which features all of the essential (and exceptionally sharp) knives needed to complete any kitchen arsenal! It also comes with the F.N. Sharp magnetic knife block, which is made of beautiful Acacia wood and offers easy storage for keeping those fall veggie-cutting knives in tip-top shape.
And if you need a cutting board and/or apron, we've got those, too! Also made of beautiful Acacia wood, F.N. Sharp cutting boards, available in large and small, are designed to be nice to your knives so they stay (F.N.) sharp! To keep your clothes protected, grab yourself an F.N. Sharp apron made from 100% waxed cotton for comfortable yet heavy protection that slips on just as easily as your F.N. Sharp knives slice through ingredients.
Happy fall and winter veggie prep!
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