Tuesday’s Tip: Make Ahead Fresh

August 02,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

‘Tis the season for me to replace my early-morning “let’s-get-out-the-door-to-school!" routine with my “let’s-cook-now-so-we-can-enjoy-the-day-outside-instead-of-in-the-kitchen” routine.  Sure, the summer is perfect for lazy mornings, and we have our fair share, but I have found that I am a much happier, calmer mom if I wake up early and begin my day before the boys wake up.

Since I am not working to get R on the bus and G to preschool, I’ve found myself using a lot of the morning time to work on blog recipe ideas and dinner.  Yes, dinner.  At 7am.  Here’s the thing:  the more I do in the early morning, the less time I have to spend during the afternoon cooking.  This means getting any cooking done before the heat of the day arrives and allowing myself the flexibility to play outside instead of being in the kitchen.

And while we do have air conditioning (and don’t really need to worry *that* much about heating up the house) and sometimes we have afternoons at home, inside, I like knowing that dinner is already planned, under way or even (joy!) done before the day truly begins.

One of my frequent things to do in the morning is to boil pasta or cook any vegetables that will be a part of our dinner.  Recently though, I realized that while making things ahead is a good thing, there are cases when I should stop right about here:

This recipe happens to be my Broccoli Ranch Bacon Pasta, and I realized that while some recipes benefit from a longer marinade, most pasta salads tend to absorb the sauce or dressing with which they are dressed.  So my Tuesday’s Tip of the Week is this:

When making ahead a pasta salad with a dressing or sauce, prepare everything ahead of time, and toss together immediately before serving.  This will keep the salad freshest and won’t require additional dressing (ie, more fat and calories).

Life is sweet,