I first got turned on to the Paderno plastic veggie spiralizer four years ago, during a raw vegan experimentation phase. One dish I enjoyed at restaurants and wanted to make at home: low-carb zucchini "noodles," which call for zucchini flesh to be cut into linguini-like strands, then "sweated" with salt to let go of excess water, then topped with raw marinara or pesto or whatever you dig. This plant pasta is great for your paleo pals, too.
I didn't own a food processor, and didn't feel like spending the money it would require to get a good one. But a frugal foodie friend suggested this particular spiralizer as a good place to start if I wasn't sure how serious I was about un-cooking. For 30-something bucks, it turned out to be a fine investment.
While I am not a raw vegan, I do enjoy the aforementioned raw pasta, and many other dishes for which this gadget is a helpful fancifying tool.
Basically, you jam your vegetable or fruit into the little prongs, then turn the wheel handle while pushing the base toward the blade you've selected. It comes with three sets of blades: 1/8-inch spacing, 1/4-inch spacing, and one straight blade for ribbon cuts.
I'm kind of obsessed with lacto-fermented veggies right now--kraut, escabeche, kimchi, and so on--and this device is great for recipes that call for shaved, grated, or "noodle-shaped" veggies, like Vietnamese do chua, a pickled carrot and radish slaw that's a must for legit bánh mì.
If you're into delicate curly fries or hash browns, let me tell ya, it's great for prepping potatoes. Even sweet ones.
As the photos below illustrate, the slicer comes with those three (very sharp, careful!) blades. There's a little side compartment to stuff them in when you're not using 2 out of the three.
I have owned mine for four years, and use it sometimes every day, sometimes every week. That's a lot of veggie mileage out of $35.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.