If you want matchstick carrots to jazz up a salad or add crunch to a spring roll recipe, you’ll need to know how to julienne carrots. This French term refers to the process of cutting carrots (or other veggies) into long, thin strips (you know, like a matchstick!). Although you could buy a julienne slicer, the best way to julienne carrots is actually with your chef’s knife. This way, you have more control over the size and length of your carrot sticks.
To add bright color, texture, and a dose of vitamin A from carrots to your dish, start by slicing a peeled carrot in half lengthwise. Cut off the ends on each side to get nice, clean edges. Then, turn each plank onto its flat side. This will keep the carrots from slipping or rolling around on the cutting board. No rolling means no accidents! Next, slice the planks into long strips. For larger carrot sticks that are perfect for dipping (try it with artichoke and hummus dip), one round of slicing is all it takes. If you want thin, matchstick carrots, slice each plank again and repeat until you have the carrot size you need.
Although most people use this technique to make matchstick carrots, you can julienne vegetables for other purposes, too. Pasta primavera is a popular Italian dish that includes julienned zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and carrots. Taco night? You’ll definitely want to julienne some radish to use as a crisp, refreshing topping! Sushi rolls might also include julienned vegetables, such as cucumber, carrot, or pickled daikon radish. (Try your skills with this cucumber avocado roll!) Otherwise, make a simple side dish by steaming matchstick carrots until semi-soft and seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper.