Whether you revel in your veggies or not, there’s one thing you know for sure: They are really good for any way you look at it.
However, many people aren't aware of the fact that there are correct and incorrect ways to cook vegetables. If you’re one of these people, then you might not be reaping all the benefits of your five-a-day.
Interestingly, eating them raw isn’t the answer either. Studies show that the cooking process breaks down the tough outer structures of your vegetables, making them easier for your body to digest and absorb their nutrients. Cooking spinach and carrots, for instance, result in higher blood levels of beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant. This is what then converts to vitamin A.
This doesn’t mean you should overcook them either. If you’re pressed for time, a pressure cooker offers a quick and convenient way to cook your veggies. It bumps up the number of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium available to your body. Here’s everything you need to know about pressure cooker vegetable recipes.
Steam Your Vegetables
When it comes to making vegetables, the general rule is to keep the amount of liquid you use, as well as the overall cooking time to a minimum. It’s an absolute faux-pas to boil them.
Boiling them means that you’re potentially missing out on vital water-soluble minerals like folate, Vitamin B1 and C. Some of the vegetables that are the most susceptible to losing nutrients when boiled include broccoli, cauliflower, peas and zucchini, which all lose more than 50% of their antioxidant properties.
Pressure cookers such as the GoWise USA 12-in-1 Multifunctional Electric Pressure Cooker come with a steamer basket, which provides an easy and convenient way to prepare vegetables. You could also buy steamer baskets separately and insert them into your pressure cooker.
What happens if your pressure cooker vegetable recipes call for the use of different types of veggies, each of which has a different cooking time? There’s an easy solution to this conundrum.
You can get compartmentalized steamer baskets, as well as multi-level ones that you can use to cook all your vegetables at the same time. Ideally, foods that require longer cooking times should be placed at the bottom of the basket since that’s where the heat source is. Those that don’t require quite as much cooking should be placed at the top.
Flavor the Water to Spruce Up Your Pressure Cooker Vegetable Recipes
One of the best parts about using pressure cookers to steam your vegetables is that you can flavor your water to remove the bland taste that is synonymous with steamed veggies. Granted, the infusion of flavor is minimal. However, you’ll certainly notice the difference.
Some of the common additives include vinegar, herbs, and wine. You can even use broth or tomato sauce as a source of steam for your vegetables. Pressure cookers like the Yedi 9-in-1 Total Package Cooker, work well to trap steam and intensify the flavors without overcooking the food.
Use the Steamer Basket Correctly
Using a steamer basket is quite straightforward, for the most part. It simply involves following the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as adhering to the specific cooking times for each vegetable type.
Nonetheless, whether you’re using the Mueller UltraPot6Q or the IAIQ Premium Cooker – both of which are excellent brands – here are some tips that you can use to get the best results in your pressure cooking vegetable recipes.
First, always allow the water in the pressure cooker to boil for 5 to 10 minutes before you put in the steamer basket and close the lid. Next, unless otherwise instructed, always select the lowest pressure level in your cooker. Finally, if you’re steaming vegetables that are likely to stick to the basket, you can brush it with a little oil to prevent this.
Some pressure cookers like the Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 also come with a trivet to keep the steamer basket raised out of the water or other steaming liquid. You wouldn’t want your vegetables submerged now, would you?
Sauté Your Vegetables
Some pressure cooker vegetable recipes call for sautéing instead of steaming. One of the benefits of sautéing is that it cooks vegetables quickly in a minimal amount of fat while retaining their texture and flavor.
Pressure cookers like the Chefman 2.5 Qt. Electric Multi-Cooker 9-in-1, offer an excellent way to sauté vegetables. Simply cut your vegetables to a uniform thickness, add a little oil to the pressure cooker, hit the sauté button, and then finally add in your veggies once it reaches the predefined temperature.
Ensure that you keep the lid open at all times during the process. If the cooker doesn’t get hot enough, your vegetables will just end up steaming instead of sautéing, which is probably not what you were going for.
Also, remember not to overcrowd the pot during the cooking process. Cook your veggies in smaller batches if you have to and stir them frequently.
Recipes that have Mediterranean vegetables like eggplant are best sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil to increase the number of antioxidants present. These are vital in keeping cancer at bay.
Pay Attention to Cooking Time
If you’ve cooked vegetables in a pressure cooker before then, you know that it’s like walking a tightrope. One mistake and you’ll have unpalatable mush on your hands.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid this mistake:
0 (zero) minutes is the time it takes for the water in the pot to start boiling once optimum pressure in the pot is achieved. For some of the vegetables listed above, the heat produced at this point is sufficient to cook them.
Vegetables Don’t Have to Be Boring
Nutritionists all over the world agree that steaming and sautéing vegetables are two of the best ways to prepare veggies if you want to reap the most benefits. Pressure cooker vegetable recipes drastically cut down on cooking time and preserve the all-important nutrients that your body needs to thrive. Try it today and add that special “zing” to your vegetables.