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I often fall asleep to cooking videos. There’s something soothing about watching tiny cups of ingredients being poured into a Dutch oven one by one: oil, garlic, onion, carrots, celery. In my late-night daze, one simple action, often repeated, slowly started to enter my subconscious: Parmesan, ginger, or garlic being artfully grated over a ripping-hot plate of rigatoni, a creamy yogurt sauce, or a sizzling grilled cheese—that last zesty garnish to top off a dish. The chefs are always different, but the utensil they use remains the same: a Microplane. 

Naturally, the handy tool made its way into my Amazon shopping cart. “They’re extraordinarily versatile,” Lena Ciardullo, executive chef of Marta, Cafe Marchio, and Vini e Fritti, told Domino recently. “I use one for zesting citrus, grating garlic for marinades and rubs, and shredding fluffy mounds of cheese.” If you think your average box grater can achieve the same result, I regret to inform you, you’re wrong. 

The Microplane is the Rolls-Royce of zesters, except it will only set you back $13. The secret is in its tiny angled teeth, which turn any ingredient into a feathery powder (and makes you feel like a fancy chef in the process). And with stew season on the horizon, I can’t think of a better cooking utensil to add to your arsenal. It has served me well for so many more recipes than just the ones that require a sprinkling of Grana Padano.

Hot cocoa: Put down the Nesquik and grab a block of dark chocolate to dust over your piping-hot drink.

Pumpkin pie: Grate a stick of cinnamon or a chunk of nutmeg into your filling as an alternative to the powder form. 

Chili con carne: Skip the chili flakes and use a shredding of the fresh stuff instead.

Garlic bread: Melt a stick of butter into a saucepan and grate a few cloves of garlic right into the mixture for a next-level predinner treat. (Soften the butter even faster by shaving it into bits with the Microplane, too.)

Chicken soup: “Mince” ginger in a flash for your feel-better chicken soup and nurse that flu-stricken loved one back to health in no time. 

Latkes: Rice a mountain of potatoes and pan-fry them to make crispy pancakes, just in time for the holidays.

Is there anything this little miracle tool can’t do?

Food & Drink photo
Premium Classic Zester, Microplane ($17)

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