Photo: 4kodiak / Getty
Jennifer Skarda
August 01, 2017

Call it a rasp, grater, zester, microplane, or whatever you prefer, but this kitchen tool has as many names as it does uses. It may seem like a one-trick pony but a mircoplane dusts powerful, yet stealthy, flavor wherever it goes. That is why it's my #1 tool in the kitchen right now.

In late summer, it doesn't take much to coax beautiful flavor out of the surplus of gorgeous produce available. But the trick of the situation is that we rarely want to spend hours in front of a stove or waiting on a hot oven. How do we showcase summer flavor without spending extra time with cooking? By using a microplane you can incorporate punches of flavor into dishes seamlessly, nearly like magic.

With a good microplane you can shave your ingredient into the finest shred or granules, so much so that sometimes it visibly disappears, but the flavor is always forefront. Let this be your secret weapon to guests savoring and trying to figure out that subtle cap of flavor that they can't pinpoint, or see.

Photo: Jamie Vespa

Start your recipe off strong by intensifying garlic or ginger for a zingy hum of flavor. 

View Recipe: Watermelon-Sesame Poke Bowls

With marinated and seared watermelon, fresh veggies, black rice and more, this fish-free riff on the popular Hawaiian dish is flavor-packed and perfect for summer. The sweetness of watermelon plays well with tangy lime juice, toasted sesame oil, and kicky grated ginger.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Use it to create a velvety, delicate blanket of parmesan.

View Recipe: Black Pepper-Parmesan Wedge Salad

The classic wedge salad may never go out of style, which is totally fine with us. We change up the blue cheese and bacon version with one that’s more Caesar inspired—a heap of shredded Parmesan cheese goes into and on top of a buttermilk dressing with plenty of cracked pepper and a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Awaken a dish with the vitality of fresh lemon zest.  

View Recipe: Rigatoni with Kale Pesto

Whole-wheat pasta would be a tasty option here, complementing the earthy flavor of kale. Pecorino cheese is a little more pungent than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so it stands up nicely to the kale. We love the bright floral note the zested lemon rind adds to the pesto.

Photo: Jamie Vespa

And, probably one the easiest (and sexiest) ways to elevate a dessert is a gorgeous layer of grated chocolate.

View Recipe: Mini Avocado Brownie Bites

Decadent and irresistibly fudgy, these brownies will fool even the savviest sweet tooth. Creamy avocados, which are high in fiber and heart-healthy fat, completely take the place of oil in this recipe. A dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, and dark chocolate shavings make for a nutritious yet decadent topping.