An ingredient trio every cook should know.

by Melissa Lanz

I like trios. When I teach cooking, I always start with what many refer to as “the cooking holy trinity”, mirepoix.  A simple mix of onions, celery and carrots creates a solid base for hundreds of recipes.

The terminology is best known in French cooking circles, but nearly every restaurant uses this combination for stocks and sauces. It’s easy to create rich flavors when starting with this trio.

Mirepoix ranges from rustic to refined depending on the dish. I like to use bite size pieces in most recipes, but for stock, a rough chop works quite well.

Chopping, dicing and mincing, oh my…

Chop, dice, mince


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Medium Carrots
2 Stalks Celery
1 medium onion (yellow or white)

Peel carrots. Slice into discs and then cut into quarters for a nice dice.

Trim celery ends. Make a long vertical slice down center of stalk and then chop.

Peel onion, cut in half through root. Chop onion evenly.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.


Place all three ingredients in pan and allow to sauté for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. If desired, you can place a loose layer of foil or parchment over the pan to let the mirepoix sweat. Once onions are translucent and carrots have softened, it’s time to add your favorite herbs followed by a bit of stock. Then you’re all set to add chicken, beef or fish on top of the mirepoix, cover and cook!

If you learn some very basic cooking trios, you can identify and prepare food from any culture. This has helped me create rich flavors using very few ingredients.

Creole/Cajun: celery, bell peppers, onion
French: onion, celery, carrots
Greek: lemon juice, olive oil, oregano
Chinese: scallions, ginger, garlic
Indian: garlic, ginger, onion
Indonesian: coconut, chili peppers and fish
Southern Italy: tomato, garlic, basil
Cuban: garlic, bell peppers, onion
French: butter, cream, eggs
Spanish: garlic, onion, tomato
West Africa: chili powder, onion, tomato

Be adventurous!

Previous post:

Next post: