Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steaming Vegetables

A great no added fat way to make vegetables is steaming. Beware that steaming can turn perfect and nutritious vegetables into a pile of goo if not properly done. I believe it's over-steaming or boiling vegetables that has given them a bad rap.
Steaming doesn't require much - you can pick up a steaming insert for just a few dollars. Inserts look like flat metal flowers with lots of holes when opened. I used one for ages until it died. During that time, my husband bought me a pot set that came with a double boiler and steaming pot so when my insert died I didn't replace it with one.
I have seen the inserts at grocery stores so they shouldn't be hard to come by. They have little legs so they can be set at the bottom of a soup pot. To use them, add about an inch of water (depending on the height of the legs, you do not want the water to come up the holes), layer your vegetable on the insert, put on the lid and turn the stove on high. Be careful that do not boil all the water out of the pan. When the water starts to boil, you can reduce the heat as low as medium. I like to keep things about medium high.
The vegetable should be tender. It should easily hold on a fork. The density of the vegetable determines how long. Start checking after 5 minutes and see how it's going. Over time you'll be able to judge the perfect steaming for your family.
The water that remains is great for plants after it has cooled or can be added to sauces or what not that you are making with dinner.
You can also steam in the microwave but it's not as easy. Add a little water to a bowl and add your vegetable. Cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave. I will tell you that there is a lot of controversy about microwaving with plastic wrap. I, personally, do not use plastic wrap because I feel it's a waste. You can try steaming without plastic wrap if you have a fairly small microwave but the trick is to keep as much steam in the microwave (and it will cause particles from the top of the microwave to drop into the food if the microwave is not clean).
Overall, I prefer using a pot and the stove.
You can add flavor to the vegetables by adding stock and seasonings to the water but the flavors will be faint so this is best to do with a more light flavored vegetable.
Vegetables to steam: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, greens (which can be steamed in a skillet), peas, green beans.
I know there are so many more but this week has made me realize how narrow my own vegetable view is. Now I need to start looking at new vegetables.

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