After I wrote that last post, I got a fresh burst of cooking energy, no doubt thanks to all your easy-meal ideas (you guys are the best!), and so I freezer-prepped a bunch of crockpot meals, made an elaborate cake and roasted homemade fries over and over again. Then my brother was in town and, in between working on the nursery and having companions on my long daily walks, we got to eat at Epice and Vegan Vee and Wild Cow and fill the fridge with leftovers. Then, this week, Music City Mise did us the great privilege of letting us test out their service, where they give you bags of prepped and measured ingredients to make a specific, mostly organic, non-GMO, real-food-focused meal. Last night, it was the heirloom carrot, rainbow chard and red potato daal, a meal I didn’t have to grocery-shop for, prep for or plan for in any way, and, start to finish, it took us one hour to make, mostly because we added a protein option (chicken) to our meal, and chicken takes a little time to cook. So although the company didn’t pay us to blog about their service, just gave us two meals to try, we so enjoyed the opportunity to come home from a few miles on the community track, pull out a cloth bag of prepped ingredients and make dinner, we wanted to share a bit about it with you here.
So here’s what you’ll want to know about Music City Mise: First, its name not only implies its location (Music City only, guys, sorry!) but also it comes from the French culinary term mise en place, which basically refers to the prepped, measured components of a meal, all lined up and ready to use. Whether or not you’re pregnant, if you’re like eight-months-pregnant me and find planning meals to be the most unenjoyable part of your cooking routine, a service like this is amazing. There are other meal-planning services out there, either that give you ideas and grocery lists or that send you little kits of ingredients and instructions, but there are two reasons that Music City Mise in Nashville is different from these other brands: (1) The quality of ingredients: mostly organic, sourced locally as much as possible, with no GMOs (harder to find than you might think) and (2) The freedom: Rather than a rigid set of directions and highly detailed recipe, you get a guide that shows you how to make something new, along with some tips, not step-by-step directions, for cooking your protein and assembling your salad. It’s a good stepping stone between Beginner Cook and Experienced Cook, where you have a lot of work done for you but still get to experiment.
Each meal costs $12 per person, or more if you choose to add meat or pantry staples like ghee. You can pay for delivery or go pick up your order at one of eight designated drop-off locations in town. All the containers are recyclable and everything is carefully labeled so you know what you have. When you’re ready to make your meal, you go to the website, look up your recipe and go to town! Simple as that.
I love the idea of daal, an Indian lentil dish filled with aromatic spices and vegetables, but I’ve honestly never made it before. I’ve also never thought of eating it with anything but pillowy naan on the side. But last night we tried it with a salad of fresh, local greens, raisins and onions that we tossed simply in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as a couple Springer Mountain chicken breasts that I first seasoned and then seared on a hot pan before covering and cooking until no longer pink inside, and the combination was exactly right.
While you’d have to be a local to try out the Music City Mise service for yourself, anybody can try out the company’s daal recipe, which is a creamy, comforting blend of red lentils with chopped carrots, rainbow chard and diced potatoes that we’ll definitely make again. Details below!
Heirloom Carrot, Rainbow Chard and Red Potato Daal with Seared Chicken Breasts and Salad
Adapt all the spices and ratios here to your liking, so if you love garlic like we do, you can feel free to up the amount, or if you aren’t a huge fan, you could just use a clove or two. Likewise for the ginger, cumin, paprika, etc. Keep tasting throughout the process to see what you prefer.
1 tablespoon ghee (or your preferred cooking oil)
Several cloves of garlic, sliced
A few inches of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 to 2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper, as desired
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
A few handfuls of Swiss chard leaves, washed and torn roughly
2 large red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cups water or stock
1. Pull out all ingredients (i.e., mise en place!) for your dinner, measuring everything out and having it ready to use.
2. In a large, wide saute pan, melt the ghee (or other oil). Then add garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until spices are nicely toasted and fragrant, and feel free to adjust amounts as you like.
3. Add onions, and cook until soft and translucent.
4. Add carrots, and cook until starting to brown.
5. Add Swiss chard and cook until wilted.
6. Add potatoes, red lentils and water (or stock). Bring to a boil, and whisk for a minute.
7. Taste for seasoning.
8. Cook this mixture for 15-20 minutes at a simmer, until potatoes are cooked through and lentils are starting to break apart. You can cook longer if you want your daal to thicken, or add more water if you want your daal to be looser.
9. Then, while your daal is cooking, prepare your salad and protein as you wish!
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.