6 Meditative Recipes That Make It Easy to Practice Mindfulness While Cooking
It’s time to slow down and enjoy the process.
People are funny sometimes, myself included. I realized that whenever I feel like I have too much to do, I make risotto for dinner — despite the fact that this dish requires a good deal of babysitting. You’d think that I’d want to cook something quicker or more hands-off. And yet, whenever I have “no time” I find myself standing over a saute pan of arborio and chicken stock, stirring like it’s the only thing that matters in the whole world.
You might think that my reliance on risotto is nothing more than the simple act of turning to comfort food when things are stressful — but it’s more than that. There’s a real ritual to making this rice, one that forces me to slow down, to experience all the sensory elements of cooking and to enjoy the process. One that has allowed me to reshape the way I think about weeknight dinner. To reframe cooking as time for myself.
The aroma of the garlic when it hits the heat, the sound of the grains swooshing around the pan as I toast them in the oil, the creaminess of the rice as it simmers in the chicken stock: it’s truly amazing how such simple ingredients can be transformed into pure bliss with nothing more than a little time and heat — and how that process can transport me away from the chaos of the day if I allow it. Making risotto quiets my mind and slows me down, making me more mindful of all the truly wonderful things that are happening in that pan. It allows me to remember all of the ways that cooking sparks joy in my life.
It’s like the only thing that matters in those moments is the food (until my daughter whizzes by on her roller skates and shouts something about needing me to check her math homework, of course).
More often than not, risotto is my go-to when I need to unwind but there are plenty of other dishes just like it: ones that reward you as you cook them — and add up to so much more than the sum of their parts or your effort. If you could use a meditative moment in the kitchen from time to time, try these recipes. They require a bit of time and focus, but will leave you feeling restored and put something truly delicious on the table in the process.
This is a great template recipe because it sticks to the basics. Once you’re comfortable with the process you can tailor it to whatever you have on hand, including add-ins like sliced mushrooms, frozen peas, egg yolks or cooked chicken at the very end of the cooking process.
There’s no rushing caramelized onions. If you want ones that are sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender you’re going to need to cook them gently for at least 20 minutes. But, that’s the beauty of this dish — because there are very few things that smell as divine as butter and onions in the pan.
Though they have a reputation for being a little bit fussy, cheese souffles are actually one of my favorite things to make from scratch. They start with a roux (which fills the kitchen with the aroma of butter), progress into a cheesy mixture with a texture like pudding (so creamy!) and are finished with mesmerizingly fluffy whipped egg whites before baking — so they’re as much a delight to make as they are to eat.
If you’ve ever spooned homemade ratatouille over slices of crusty bread for a breezy, warm-weather dinner then you already know that the time it takes to slowly simmer these seasonal vegetables down to a stew-like consistency is completely worth it. Added bonus: the process of dicing all the veggies into neat little pieces is surprisingly satisfying — and the colors are so pretty.
If you’re a pro at getting scrambled eggs on the table in 2 minutes flat, you’re missing out. The best way to cook this simple dish is slowly. So slowly, in fact, that the whole process will probably take you more than 10 minutes. If you notice that the eggs are starting to set around the edges of the pan while you’re scrambling them, the heat is too high. Lower it, keep whisking and enjoy the process!
It’s no secret that good bolognese takes time — but that’s why it’s a good dish to make when you need to unwind. After standing over the stove and soaking up plenty of delicious cooking smells, you’re rewarded with the gentle sound of the sauce simmering away on your stovetop as it thickens up — for more than 2 hours.