Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My new mezzaluna

As announced a couple of weeks ago, I have gotten a new mezzaluna. I chose a Paderno brand 10-inch utensil, with a single blade of a steel-carbon alloy, and plastic ergonomic handles.

I have now received it and already used it three or four times, to my satisfaction. The blade is sharp, and the extra weight and length as opposed to my previous, smaller (and cheaper) one, makes for swift, efficient work. I chose the single blade because I like the look better, plus I read that double-bladed mezzalunas get food caught between the blades and are harder to sharpen. I would never use a single-handled mezzaluna.

Why get one of these rather than using a knife or a food processor? I've never used food processors, not even mini-choppers, for herbs or soffritto, or garlic and onion, all of which are very important in Italian cooking. As for the knife, the rocking motion of the mezzaluna is pleasing to me, not to mention safer. Ultimately, it is probably a subjective matter. I just like 'em, and feel that cooking should not be high-tech. I'm not on an assembly line or in an office when I'm in my kitchen. And I'm not a chef in a restaurant, with stringent time restraints.

I inaugurated it over the weekend with one of my comfort dishes, spaghetti with clams, which I usually make with a soffritto of onion, garlic and flat-leaf parsley. The next day I made another of my favorites, asparagus risotto, where I used it for the onion and parsley (minced separately.) I also used it to mince the remaining parsley, which I froze. In fact I intend to freeze more herbs now that I have this tool. I'll also keep some frozen battuto on hand.

The mezzaluna is also good for chopping nuts, and I'd like to make more dishes with those tasty, nutritious (but alas, expensive) little fellows. Next up: I'll be trying a pasta dish with mascarpone, nuts and parsley.