Chiffonade is one of those terms which conjure up a trick that could be mastered only by a wizard with Cordon Bleu credentials. The technique can easily be accomplished by anyone with a cutting board, however.
Chiffonade (SHIF-uh-nade) is French for "made of rags." As a food term, it refers to thin shreds of leafy vegetables such as spinach or herbs such as basil used as a garnish.
To create a chiffonade, remove stems from leaves that have been washed and dried, then stack leaves in a neat pile. (Start with four or five.) Roll into a tight cylinder, and hold firmly with one hand. Using a sharp chef's knife, cut crosswise into thin strips. See the confettilike tangle before you? Voila!
A cooking demonstration I recently attended illustrated how exotic language makes ordinary tasks sound impressive: The chef produced a side dish he dubbed "cabbage chiffonade." Not exactly the way grandma referred to coleslaw.
COLLARD GREEN SALAD
Raw collard greens? One bite of these sprightly green ribbons and you'll be a convert. If you can't get collards, use kale:
2 (1-pound) bunches collard greens or kale, well washed, tough stems removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
3 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Stack leaves of collard or kale; roll up tightly the long way, making a cigar-shape roll. Cut as thinly as possible across the greens, making thin ribbons (a chiffonade). You may have to do this in batches.
This can be done up to 2 days in advance. Store greens in zip-top plastic bags and refrigerate.) Place greens in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with oil. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Toss well. Serves 8.
Look for Relish magazine on first Wednesdays in The Augusta Chronicle. See relishmag.com.