How do chefs make those little thin ribbons of fresh basil on top of your spaghetti bolognese? Before you get too impressed at their seemingly endless patience, there’s actually a handy knife trick to cutting several leafy herbs at once into those pretty ribbons. This slicing technique is called a chiffonade (like “shiff-oh-nahd”), and it means “little ribbons” in French. It’s a handy little technique that may just inspire you to start adding herbs to just about everything you whip up in your kitchen.
Whether you want to chiffonade basil, sage, or even spinach, begin by stacking the herb leaves one on top of the other, keeping them as flat as possible on the cutting board. This step is honestly the trickiest part, since those leaves can sometimes curl up in different directions. (In other words, it’s smooth sailing from here!) Next, roll the stack of leaves into a tight cigar shape, and slice into the roll with a chef’s knife. To chiffonade your basil or other herbs, keep slicing off thin ribbons until you reach the end of the roll. That chiffonade should leave you with a small heap of fresh herbs cut into perfect strips.
Now that you can chiffonade herbs, try adding basil ribbons to the top of appetizers like crostinis or mixed into a flavorful summer salad with watermelon and feta. The more herbs you can sneak into your diet, the better! Antioxidant-packed herbs boast some major health benefits and provide boosts of flavor that may allow you to cut back on salt or other ingredients you’re trying to eat less of.