My friend Rocca recently said, “I’m not a gadget girl, but I do love that blue vegetable peeler Madeleine gave me!”
It changed her life!
Now Rocca can peel a mango, an apple and a piece of fresh ginger like nobody else.
She can zoom through a chayote in a second. She can spin out zucchini ribbons faster than it takes her to find a mandolin and use it. With a Y-peeler in Rocca’s hand, no veggie or fruit is insurmountable.
I’ve been addicted to Y-peelers ever since we first met. I still remember where and when: Toronto’s Good Food Festival, circa 1997. A small booth was devoted to this single gadget and the fast-talking salesman reminded me of a 60’s Veg-O-Matic huckster. I was skeptical until he put that demo peeler in my right hand and a slippery, waxy globe eggplant in the other. It was love at first peel.
Now I can’t live without a Y-peeler and simple, roast veggies are one of my signature dishes. I can strip a butternut squash in a flash then do the same to sweet potatoes, Yukon golds and parsnips. I toss some quartered onions into the collection and whole cloves of garlic (no need to peel, just squeeze them later). I rummage through my seasonings cupboard and pull out whole, dried sage and thyme from last summer’s garden and crumble them on top. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and the batch is ready to roast at 400°F for an hour or until caramelized and tender.
But back to that Y-peeler… did I mention zest? Or marmalade? Try doing that with a standard vegetable peeler! Those long thin blunt blades are more apt to slide all over the place than grab and pull away peel. No wonder cookhouse lackeys pleaded insanity when the head honcho exiled them to mashed potato duty. They had the wrong tool.
But when a Y-peeler is working behind the scenes, poached pears look sleek and silky. Ditto for sliced apples piled up inside a tarte Tatin. Next fall when quince comes back into season, I plan to pull out my trusty Y-peeler, fill a baking pan with peeled halves, cover with a poaching syrup and bake until soft and succulent.
The more tender the fruit, the better a Y-peeler to tackle it. I’m talking kiwi, papaya, even tomatoes. (Bonnie Stern recommends peeling sweet red peppers and the only utensil I know fit for that job is a Y-peeler!)
But before I finish my Y-peeler rant, let me add this: I don’t care what brand you buy or where you purchase it. I have no stocks or vested interests. I just want you, dear blog reader, to eat more real food. I’m talking whole and unprocessed, veritable fresh produce and if you have a Y-peeler in your life… it will change it!