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.