An intriguing variation of simple diagonal slicing is roll-cutting, a specialty cut applied to long, dense cylindrical objects like asparagus and carrots and also to long, thin squashes and Chinese eggplant. The aim is twofold: To achieve a greater surface area for quick-cooking and penetration of seasonings and to provide some intrigue and fun for the tongue.

To roll-cut a cylindrical vegetable, first make a diagonal slice near the stem end and discard the stem. Be alert to the angle. A too-sharp one will yield a skinny tip that will turn flabby upon cooking or marinating, and too slight an angle is not as attractive. Next, roll the object a quarter to a third of a turn away from you, then slice again at a similar angle 1½ inches farther down. Continue rolling and slicing until the whole object has been reduced to evenly long segments with diagonally cut ends (except in the case of asparagus, where one end should sport a nice purple tip). The ends will not be neatly parallel if you have roll-cut properly. They will be splayed out, slightly awkward looking, and feel witty on the tongue.

roll-cut lengths of asparagus: irregular ends cut at a not too-sharp or too-slight angle