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Steaming Vegetables: Part Two of a Two-Part Series

Judy E. Buss

In the first part of this two-part series, I described economical and easy-to-use steamer types, vegetable preparation for steaming and other related issues were also covered. We are now ready to explore the delicious and nutritious wonderland of steamed veggies.

You can steam any vegetable and eat it as is, with a little salt and pepper and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil. You’ll be surprised how tasty fresh produce is when it is cooked and served in this way. Don’t slice or chop vegetables more than necessary before steaming them. The more you chop, the greater the nutrient loss.  Here are some quick and simple steamed veggie ideas including their approximate cooking times: Broccoli florets (12 minutes); peeled whole garlic cloves (12 – 15 minutes); bell pepper – any color – cut in half stem and seeds removed (12 minutes); Carrots cut into 2 – 3 segments, and the thickest segments cut in half lengthwise (12 – 15 minutes); corn on the cob. You may need to cut the cob in half crosswise to fit into the pot (12 minutes); frozen corn kernels 5 minutes; whole green beans, stem-end removed (12 minutes); yellow onion, cut in half lengthwise, peeled, ends trimmed (15 minutes); Potato, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (20 minutes); sweet potato, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (15 minutes); zucchini (summer squash) – yellow or green – trim stem-end, peel, and cut in half crosswise (14 minutes).

Mixed with a simple sauce or dressing, steamed vegetables can also be transformed into numerous fabulous dishes for daily meals, a potluck, or a special dinner. After sinking their teeth into your offering, your family and friends will think that you earned a secret diploma from Le Cordon Yum!  The sky is the limit; and these dishes can be served hot, warm, or cold.

Vegetables are among the pillars of a healthy diet, so take advantage of their goodness.  Eat a wide variety of fresh raw salads daily, as well as briefly steamed, or cooked (covered, not fried, or roasted!) to maximize their benefits. Canned or commercially precooked frozen ones are “for the birds.” (Please don’t feed those to your Parakeet or to any other living critter for that matter…) The following are recipe examples of scrumptious dishes made with steamed budget-friendly produce; and remember, a healthy diet impoverishes the doctor – Bon appétit!

 STEAMED CABBAGE WITH GARLIC AND PEAS
4 servings

3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
6 cups shredded raw cabbage, packed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons dried marjoram or basil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Steam cabbage about 12 minutes until just turned tender. Do not overcook.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook about 12 minutes, until onion is translucent, stirring once or twice.
  3. Add garlic, marjoram (or basil), salt, and pepper. Cook (covered) 2 minutes. Mix in cabbage and raw peas and cook 2 more minutes to heat through.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND NUTS IN VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
4 servings

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

DRESSING:
4-1/2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a colander, rinse Brussels sprouts and trim their bottom ends. Steam Brussels sprouts about 15 minutes, until the largest ones are just barely tender. Drain Brussels sprouts and gently rinse them with cold water for 5 seconds to halt the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients. Toss Brussels sprouts with dressing, then mix in the nuts. Serve warm or cold.

ASPARAGUS SALAD
4 servings

1-1/2 pounds asparagus

DRESSING:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut about 1 inch off the tough asparagus stalk bottoms. Cut the vegetable into 2 inch-long pieces. Steam 7 minutes and promptly remove from stove. Drain and gently rinse asparagus in cold water for a few seconds, to halt further cooking. Drain.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Mix in asparagus. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 1 hour before serving.

“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.

Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.

Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.

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