Chef’s Envy Mandolin and Pesto Caprese Salad

Welcome to my first Equipment Review on 5iveDollarFeasts. Today I’m going to take a quick look at the Chef’s Envy, one of the many home mandolins that have recently come on the market.

Recently, the Chef’s Envy has begun to have product demos at your local grocery store. You may have heard the announcements. Someone will get on the P.A system  and announce that they are, “giving away a free gift in five minutes! Just meet our representative in the produce department!” If you wander over to the meeting area, you’ll see a little cutting board and presentation area set up. Soon, the same gentleman who made the announcement shows up dressed like a chef.

He proceeds to show you some little knick knack, like a plastic juicer or vegetable peeler, demonstrates how to use it, and the tells you he’ll give you one for free at the end of the demonstration.

“Here we go,” you’ll think because we are naturally skeptical of anything free, “I’m not going to sit through a boring half hour demonstration for a free vegetable peeler. I’ll give him a couple minutes. At most.” And then he’ll bring out the Chef’s Envy, a mandolin for the home chef, and proceed to show you how to use it. While there will be some showmanship (I mean, mandolins have been around for a long time, and they talk as if this were a new invention) you’ll actually be suitably impressed at it’s ease of use. Then he’ll offer it to you for $29.99 with 3 blade attachments and hand out your free gift.

This all happened to me a few months ago. I accepted my knick knack and turned to leave because I was sure it wasn’t as easy to use as he made it look. My skepticism was actually overcome, however, because I’ve actually been wanting a mandolin to get nice easy slices for catering and food styling. I always feel that if something is too good to be true it probably is, but after thinking about it, it seemed like a good deal, but not so good as to be too good to be true.

Rationalizing that I was doing a service to my blog readers by buying the product and testing it, I went ahead and grabbed one.

And I have to say, I am very glad I did. I use it almost once a week for six months now, and I am surprised the blades have stayed sharp. I don’t want to say it is perfect. The safety grip is a bit unwieldy for most vegetables, and it can be tricky to store, but the benefits outweigh any problems. Professional mandolins or slicers normally cost over $100 and this does the job nearly as well.

I would give the Chef’s Envy 3.5 out of 5 stars and say it well worth the $35 price tag on their website. I love them for dicing lots of onions quickly and easily.

Try making my pesto caprese salad recipe below; the Chef’s Envy makes slices the tomato perfectly. It’s also great for the vegetable toppings at a burger night or just to slice lemons or limes.

I am in no way associated with Chef’s Envy. I just want to give you my professional opinion on the product. I will have more equipment reviews in the future.

Oh, I almost forgot! While I like the vegetable peeler I got for free the plastic juicer they gave me that is meant to be stuck straight into the top of a lemon or other citrus is useless. It was free, but if you’re not thinking about buying the Chef’s Envy and they are offering the juicer, don’t stay for the free gift.

Pesto Caprese Salad

Pesto sauce below (retain a few basil leaves for the salad)

1 tomato for each salad, sliced on a mandolin (If you can find affordable heirloom tomatoes they are best, but any tomato will work. Roma are often the cheapest.)

Mozzerella in salted water (Di Buffala is a amazing, but likely not available for a 5ive Dollar Feast budget. I recommend ovaline. Broncini is awfully small for a caprese salad)

  1. Drain and slice the mozzerella in similar sizes to the sliced tomatoes.
  2. Layer tomato slice, then basil leaf, the mozerella, and finally a little pesto. Continue to layer until the ingredients are used up.

Pesto Sauce

2 cups basil leaves, stems removed

¾ cups pine nuts (For a Five Dollar Feast, you will probably have to substitute almonds or walnuts, preferably toasted if you can buy them that way. Hint: Trader Joe’s has sliced toasted almonds very cheap.)

½ cup parmesan, grated

½ cup olive oil

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Taste, and adjust ingredients to taste.
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2 responses to “Chef’s Envy Mandolin and Pesto Caprese Salad

  1. Mandolins scare me a little 😀 – the safety grip nullifies this concern, but that would make it awkward… I’ll never buy one. This salad looks great, very well presented.

  2. I used to work for the company that manufactures and demonstrates these things. This product is by far my favorite! While I received some pretty intensive training on it’s use and demonstration, I still find it to be easy and safe to use. One thing to remember for safety, it’s always easier to use when you cut your bigger vegetables in half first. While I’ve used mine enough to not have to do that, it might help beginners. My personal Envy is almost three years old and still works wonderfully. My only disappointment? Carrots change the color of even the black ones! Oh as as far as the little orange juicer goes, I love that thing. If you are having trouble with it be sure you remove the “plug” you create when you cut through the ring and then re-insert it. And finally . . . When I worked for the company, you got your free gift within the first five minutes and a second gift with purchase, usually kitchen shears or a knife. I don’t think that has changed, but I’ll watch a little closer next time I see them in a store.

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