It’s about the dinner hour. You’re famished, and you realize there’s nothing readily available to eat. You pull out the spinach, radish, zucchini, an onion, and a few garlic cloves. Then, you realize all of your “prep” bowls are slyly hiding from you.
I know I’m in the minority, but my favorite thing about cooking is prep-work–the washing, slicing, cutting, chopping, the peeling, crushing, dicing, and cook-dancing. It’s one of the few ways my brain ACTUALLY stops thinking. After a 9-hour day of intellectual and sensory stimulation, that vital organ can focus solely on the mechanical motions of my santoku blade rocking back-and-forth right-to-left.
Before embarking on this Italian adventure, I learned a few things from the commercial cooking school I volunteered at back in Minneapolis. One of these was organization. Things over flame burn. If you’re heating up oil while chopping onions (and anything like me), it will end in destruction. I like being prepared, which is why I always prep and put things into cutesy containers that hold the ingredients in the order they should enter the pot. This mostly makes my life easier when I’m making upwards of four to eight dishes at a time. Needless to say, it helps if you have the containers for easy prep.
Fear not because I have possibly one of the easiest solutions for your chopping woes. If you eat eggs, you have egg cartons, right? Those can be used as prep containers before you toss them to your recycling bin. They’ve saved me excess washing of dishes on multiple occasions–from chopped garlic to crushed pepper and sliced zucchini. Best part? They make great prep trays if you’re going to a party. Put your ingredients snugly in each divot, close the lid, and voila–instant party aperitivo hero. Use them as dip trays too. Just be sure not to overfill.