The delicate leaves of the basil plant are easily bruised when chopped for your recipes. One of the popular techniques for cutting basil without imposing as much injury to the leaves is the knife skills technique of chiffonade. The word “chiffonade” is French and means “made of rags.” The leaves are left in very long and thin strips after the chiffonade and can look decorative when placed on the top of a dish as garnish. They can also be stirred into your favorite recipe or added to a salad.
1. Begin by stacking a few leaves that are relatively the same size, maybe five leaves.
2. Then roll them up by starting on one of the long sides of the leaves. This is often referred to as rolling the leaves like a cigar.
3. Next, hold the leaves near the point end with your fingers (be careful to practice safe knife skills technique and keep your finger tips out of the way). Then take a small utility knife and slice across the cigar-shaped roll until you have sliced the entire stack of leaves. The thickness or thinness of each slice will determine the thickness or thinness of the “rags” of the chiffonade.
4. Once the entire cigar has been sliced, you can unroll the pieces so they are loose and ready for use. It is best to work with the basil right before you use it. I usually leave it for the last ingredient to prep when cooking.