Since becoming a Mum just over a year ago, there have been many changes in my life.
Easily the biggest one, from a food perspective, is that I just don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen as I used to…
So meanwhile I’ve been relying on the quicker recipes in my repertoire like the ones in 5 Ingredients 10 Minutes.
The other habit I’ve really found life saving is a little technique or ‘secret’ I like to call ‘mise en place‘.
What is ‘mise en place?’
Mise en place is a French term that roughly translates as ‘put in place’. It’s used to describe the practice of chefs preparing food up to a point where it is ready to be used in a dish during food service.
It may be as simple as washing and picking herbs into individual leaves or chopping vegetables. Or more complicated like caramelising onions, cooking dried beans or slow cooking meats.
The main benefit in a restaurant is that it makes it much quicker and easier to get food on the table after the customer has ordered.
The secondary benefit is that the preparation can help to extend the shelf life of fresh produce.
How can this ‘secret’ help you?
1. Save you time during the week.
By taking the time on weekends to do a little ‘mise en place’ preparation, we can make it much quicker and easier to get dinner on the table when we come home from work late and everyone is hungry.
2. Prolong the shelf life of your produce
Happily, there’s another side benefit… A little bit of preparation can extend the shelf life of fresh produce. This is usually because the preparation involves some sort of heat which reduces any microbes present.
Just think of a slow cooked meat dish which will last for a week or longer in the fridge, compared to a piece of fresh meat that may only keep for a few days. Same goes for wilted kale vs a bunch of fresh kale.
Like to go deeper with this?
I’m in the process of revamping my online cooking program that focuses on ‘Mise en Place’ or building block recipes. It’s going to be released in a few weeks and before then I’d love to get your input to make sure the class is as useful as possible.
I’ve created a quick 2-question survey below, I’d really love to get your thoughts…
Quinoa with Broccoli Pesto
Most weeks I either cook up a big pot of lovely lentils or quinoa to use during the week for breakfasts, lunches or dinners. I’ve also more recently been getting into grating raw veg like broccoli or cauliflower in the food processor and keeping it in the fridge for a quick veg hit to serve with my poached eggs in the morning or in a salad like this.
If you’re not a fan of raw broccoli, see the ‘more wintery’ variations below.
Enough for 2
1 head broccoli
400g (14oz) cooked quinoa
6 tablespoons pesto
squeeze lemon juice
8 tablespoons ricotta
1. Chop broccoli into small bite sized pieces or grate it using a box grater or your food processor.
2. Toss prepared broccoli in a bowl with the quinoa and pesto. Add lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Taste and add more salt / pepper / lemon, if needed.
4. Serve with ricotta on top.
not-so-organised – cook 200g (7oz) quinoa from scratch, just boil in a big pot of water like pasta for 10 minutes. Then drain and you’re good to go.
warm salad / more wintery – follow the ‘not-so-organised’ instructions above and add broccoli to the cooking water after 5 minutes. Drain and toss in the pesto and lemon and serve warm with cold ricotta on top.
make your own pesto – whizz one bunch basil leaves with 1 clove garlic, a handful pinenuts and large handful grated parmesan. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to make a chunky paste and season well with s&p.
no quinoa? – replace with any cooked grain or legume. Barley or brown rice would be my first choices.
dairy-free / vegan – replace ricotta with hummus or a drizzle of tahini and use a dairy-free pesto like this Sicilian Nut Pesto.