Simple Steamed Veggies

It may sound silly- obvious, even- the simplicity of the steamed vegetable as a side dish. Unfortunately, I did not discover this beauty right off the bat. Our 'quick and easy' side to a meal consisted of throwing a few pieces of prepackaged frozen garlic bread into the oven. Tasty and filling, for sure, but, nutritionally, this was 'filler' rather than a proper addition to the meal. Periodically we'd eat canned or frozen corn or green beans, but that was about it.

Finally, I picked up some fresh vegetables at the grocery store. It may have been beans or broccoli, I don't remember. I discovered this pot my mom had given me a long while back- I think I had used it once or twice as a spaghetti pot, think it was neat that it had a built-in strainer. In case you haven't guessed- no, that is not its intended purpose. The pot is a vegetable steamer, used by putting about an inch of water in the bottom, bring it to a boil, then putting the perforated insert in the pot with the vegetables. Cover and let steam for less than 5 minutes, and it's done. Unlike cooking pasta, boiling the water doesn't take long because there's so little of it. Cooking the vegetables minimally enhances color and maintains nutrients. Quick and Easy. And Good for You!
Here's my favorite way to steam broccoli, inspired by Elise & Stephen:

Garlic & Basil Broccoli
1-2 heads of broccoli
2 Tbsp margarine
Garlic salt to taste
Dried basil to taste

Fill a pot with a steamer basket with 1 inch of water and set on the stove to boil. While waiting, cut the bottom 1/2 of the broccoli stem and discard (This is usually hard and no fun to eat.) Using a vegetable peeler, peel the stem the best you can to remove the tough skin. Cut the "trees" off and into similarly-sized florets. Cut the rest of the stem into pieces with a similar thickness as the stems on the florets. Place the broccoli in the steamer basket.

When the water in the pot is boiling, insert the steamer basket with vegetables, and cover. Let steam for about 5 minutes- use a timer. Overcooked broccoli is not only mushy, it's not as good for you.

Turn hot broccoli into a bowl and toss with margarine. Sprinkle garlic salt and basil to taste and toss. Serve immediately.

1 medium-sized head of broccoli makes two very generous servings.


ashley@twentysixcats said...

I'm really glad you posted this. I have a pot like that too that I had no idea what to use it for. I also have been wondering how one cooks fresh veggies, because my experience is open the bag, pour into a dish, add water, and put in microwave. :-)

Joanna said...

That was my experience, too. The fresh veggies don't come with the nice instructions on the side of the bag like the frozen variety!

You gotta try this, though, especially if you already have the pot. Pick up a head of broccoli or cauliflower, or some green beans or carrots, or whatever you like. It's amazing how much better the fresh veggies taste!

I was also always afraid to buy fresh because I thought they would go bad before the two of us could eat them. I've found that not to be a problem- and, if there's fresh veggies in the fridge, I make a point to use them SO they don't go bad, which means we're eating more vegetables than we used to- which is healthier.