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Food

How to Chiffonade Leafy Herbs and Vegetables

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 9, 2020 • 2 min read

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Have you ever had a pasta dish garnished with beautiful, slightly-curled ribbons of basil on top? Chiffonade is the cutting technique responsible for those wispy ribbons. This classic French technique is a simple, fun way to enhance your culinary game and add a professional touch to your dishes.

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What Is Chiffonade?

Chiffonade is a French cooking technique for slicing leafy herbs and vegetables—especially basil leaves—into thin ribbons. The word “chiffonade” comes from the French word chiffoner, which means to crumble. The unique slicing technique involves stacking and tightly rolling leafy herbs and vegetables, then slicing them at a perpendicular angle into thin strips that you can incorporate into salads, soups, pastas, and pizzas. The most common ingredients to chiffonade include herbs such as basil, mint, and sage, and leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

What Ingredients Can You Chiffonade?

You can chiffonade thin, flat-leafed herb or leafy green vegetables. Firmer vegetables like carrots and zucchini call for a different slicing technique called “julienning.” The most common ingredients to chiffonade are basil, spinach, sage, mint, and Swiss chard. Learn more about cooking with herbs in our comprehensive guide to common culinary herbs.

When to Chiffonade

The thin slices produced by chiffonading are perfect for garnishing casseroles, soups, steaks, and chicken dishes. Chiffonading leafy herbs and vegetables allows you to seamlessly incorporate these ingredients into a dish, and avoid serving large bites of delicate herb leaves.

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Gordon Ramsay Demonstrates How to Chiffonade Basil

How to Chiffonade

Chiffonading is a basic process with a handful of steps :

  1. Prepare your leaves. To prepare your leaves for this slicing technique, rinse them in cold water, pat them dry, and remove the leaves from the stem.
  2. Roll up the leaves. Stack the leaves in a small, even pile and roll them up into a tight cylinder (that resembles a cigar). If you only need a small portion, simply roll up a single leaf for slicing.
  3. Slice the leaves. Hold the roll down on the cutting board with one hand and slice perpendicular down the cylinder’s length, cutting through the roll with each motion. Keep the tip of your knife against the cutting board the entire time, to maintain control and achieve the thinnest slices possible.
  4. Fluff the pile. After cutting the entire roll, use your fingers to fluff the pile a few times to separate the ribbons from one another and help them unfurl. Use these little ribbons as garnishes atop any dish, or mix them into salads or pasta for extra flavor. You can practice your chiffonade cutting technique by preparing Gordon Ramsay’s lobster ravioli with basil chiffonade.

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