Steamed

“Food Week” continues on the JMD blog…

I’ve already posted many times my pleasure cooking meals.  Perceptive readers will notice that most of this conversation revolves around main courses.  This is not because I dislike vegetables, to the contrary.  However, I have steered away from cooking veggies for the mot part, leaning more heavily on salads to carry my vegetable load.

A few months back, a friend of mine and I were shopping in the fresh market we like and I looked longingly at a bunch of asparagus.  I mentioned that I liked asparagus a lot but was unsure how to cook them and therefore rarely had them.

This friend is primarily a veggie eater and she proceeded to tell me that it was incredibly easy to cook asparagus (and virtually any other vegetable).  She warned me off the asparagus on display, though, because she did not like their color or size.  Instead, she plopped a pound of green beans in my basket and told me to go home and steam them, then lightly saute them and splash them with some pepper and lemon.

I looked dubiously at the package, but decided that fifty years was long enough to wait before cooking some vegetable other than corn and potatoes.  I have some superb cookware that includes two different pot-and-strainer basket combinations and it was high time I finally used them for something other than pasta.

I was still mostly clueless how to steam the beans, so naturally I looked it up online.  How ridiculously easy.  The most time-consuming part of the whole deal was cutting the tips off the green beans.

My stove top, one of those newer glass top stoves, is positioned in such a way that when I boil water on the “big” burner, if wafts up onto the microwave and then condenses and drips back down.  Despite my culinary skills, I am pretty bad when it comes to boiling water (perhaps another post), but I managed to successfully get through my pound of green beans and darned if they didn’t taste terrific.

Feeling unreasonably proud of myself (I only steamed some vegetables, it’s not like I rescued a beached whale or something), the next trip into the fresh market, I picked up a package of brussel sprouts, an old favorite of mine.

The preparation was less tedious (crop the stem and criss-cross cut the base) since there were so few compared to the green beans.  I found two different ways to prepare them, one which used the microwave and I thought I would give that a shot.  They came out tasting terrific and I saved myself the boiling issue.

My next stop finally got me a pack of the elusive asparagus.  My research also led to a choice between microwave and stove top (steam or saute).  The results on the microwave this time were less tasty, leading me to believe that some veggies just make more sense cooked the old-fashioned way.

I have enjoyed many happy returns with the variety of green vegetables so far.  I am a bit challenged by being single, forcing me to wrap and freeze quantities of veggies.  I find when I do this quickly (rinsing them in cold water to get them cooled down), they seem to retain the most flavor upon reheating.

I suppose if I chose to switch to vegetables as a main course, as opposed to a side dish, I could finish off some of these portions in a single sitting, but I do like my mixed meals and the frozen veggies are still pretty good (though definitely losing something in the translation).

I’ve been thinking about starting on two more of my favorite dishes, stuffed peppers and eggplant (in just about any form).  My friend shared her eggplant tips with me and I’m going to try out the classic purple one next.  This represents a big step for me, since I will be stepping away from my easy steamed vegetables and moving into “real” cooking.

Once I go down this path, however, there’s no turning back.  After main courses and vegetables, can I refuse to explore desserts next?  And how do you cook a dessert only for one?

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