Steaming is the perfect way to turn out tender vegetables without losing any of their nutrients or dousing them in oil and butter. Try these simple techniques for easy, healthy veggies. For more flavor, add lemon juice or soy sauce to the steaming water; layer slices of lemon, ginger or garlic beneath steaming veggies; or use broth or stock instead of water. Top steamed veggies with chopped herbs, a drizzle of sesame or olive oil, or reduced balsamic vinegar.
1. Collapsible Stainless-Steel Steamer. This is the classic way to steam veggies. Put a few ounces of liquid in a pot and top with the collapsible steamer. Add veggies, bring water to a boil, then simmer covered for five minutes or until vegetables reach desired doneness.
2. Bamboo Steamer Basket. These handy multipurpose trays enable you to steam many foods—veggies, dumplings, tortillas, fish fillets, etc.—at the same time. Simply line trays with lettuce or cabbage leaves to prevent food from sticking. Add food, with the densest foods in the bottom tray, and cover. Add 2 inches of water to a wok (checking to make sure the food won’t be submerged), and bring to a simmer. Place steamer basket in wok. Add water as it evaporates if necessary. Remove basket when food is fork-tender.
3. Slow Cooker. Steaming veggies in the slow cooker enhances their flavors. Some slow cookers come with a tray for slowly steaming vegetables, but you can adapt any slow cooker by using a collapsible steamer basket to keep veggies above the water line. Just add a few inches of water, add vegetables to the tray or steamer, and cook on low for four to six hours or on high for one to two hours. When your veggies are fork-tender, remove the tray or steamer with tongs.