Steamed Vegetables

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New York Times Menu Cookbook

New York Times Menu Cookbook

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1966

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Vegetables steamed with very little water lose a minimum of vitamin and mineral content and consequently retain most of the flavor. This is the method of choice if the vegetable is to be chilled and served with a sauce such as vinaigrette.

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale should be washed thoroughly in several waters, drained, and steamed in only the water that clings to the leaves. Asparagus, green and yellow snap beans, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, leeks, yellow summer squash and zucchini are particularly delicious steamed. Wash and trim the vegetables; asparagus and leeks need careful cleaning to remove any sand. Separate broccoli and cauliflower into flowerets. Very small squash may be cooked whole, and larger squash may be halved, quartered, sliced, or cut into uniform cubes. Asparagus, snap beans and leeks should be tied into bundles with soft string.

Put the prepared vegetable in a large skillet or saucepan with a tight-fitting cover; a double-boiler bottom with the top reversed is ideal for whole asparagus stalks. Add one-half to two inches (depending on the depth of the vessel) of boiling salted water, enough to fill the pan with steam. Add a little more boiling water during the cooking if the pan becomes dry, but there should be very little water remaining in the pan when the vegetable is done. Steam the vegetable until just tender, for five to eight minutes if the vegetable is cut up, for ten to fifteen minutes if it is whole.

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