Steamed vegetables can be a healthy addition to your diet. In addition to being nutritious, they’re relatively easy to cook.
There are a few different methods you can use for steaming them. What’s also great about this cooking process is that you don’t need special equipment to make it.
You can create this delicious dish with just a covered pan, a steamer, or a microwave bowl. That said, this complete guide focuses primarily on how to steam vegetables in a pan.
So, let’s get right to it.
Steaming Your Vegetables in a Pan
Regardless of what method you use to steam your vegetables, there are a few steps you must do before the vegetables make it to the pan.
You’re going to have to select the vegetables you want to cook first. You will then need to prepare them well. Here are the steps for steaming your veggies.
Step 1. Select Your Veggies
You can steam most vegetables in a pan. However, some steam better than others.
It’s best to avoid steaming large vegetables such as potatoes. They’ll take a longer time to cook. That said, you can cut them into small pieces if you want them there.
Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, green beans, and artichokes are some of the best choices for steaming in a pan.
Here’s an approximate amount of time you’ll need to cook certain vegetables.
- Brocolli: the florets need about 5 to 7 minutes, while stalks require approximately 8 to 12 minutes.
- Asparagus: these require 7 to 13 minutes, but you can reduce the time to 4 to 7 minutes by cutting up the spears in small pieces.
- Carrots: these require 7 to 12 minutes, but may vary based on the size of the carrots.
- Green beans: these need approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
- Cauliflower: these need about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Whole artichoke: this requires 25 to 35 minutes.
- Sliced potatoes: these need about 8 to 12 minutes.
- Spinach and other leafy greens: these need about 5 minutes to cook.
- Brussel sprouts: these need 8 to 10 minutes.
If you plan to steam more than one type of vegetable at a time, make sure to put those that have a similar cook-time.
Step 2. Clean the Vegetables
Once you’ve selected the vegetables you want to cook, you must clean them.
Thus, you must rinse them so that you can remove whatever dirt that may still be on them.
Washing the veggies will also remove all traces of pesticides. Wash all of your vegetables in cold water. After that, use a paper towel to pat them dry.
Consider Soaking Some Veggies in a Bowl of Water
Vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower have many grooves that can hide dirt and bacteria.
Therefore, it’s best to soak such veggies in cold water for about a minute or two. After that, rinse them off before you cook them.
Use a Brush to Clean Vegetables with Thick Skins
You should also consider using a vegetable brush to clean vegetables with thick skins.
Examples of such veggies include carrots and potatoes. However, make sure to rinse the brush off thoroughly before using it.
Step 3. Cut Your Veggies Up
Whether you want to cut your vegetables up is your choice. This decision will depend on what you want your dish to be like, and the amount of time you want to cook the vegs.
This step is especially useful when steaming large veggies.
Slicing and trimming the vegetables can significantly reduce the cook-time. For example, carrots and potatoes cook much faster when sliced (as that increases the surface area where steam can work).
In addition to that, some vegetables have leaves, seeds, or stems that you’ll need to remove before cooking.
Prepare Some Vegetables Correctly
Some vegetables require an extra bit of preparation. For example, if you’re steaming asparagus, you’ll need to remove the tough ends of the stalks.
You should also peel the thicker stalks a bit before cooking it. By doing that, you’ll ensure that the stalk is a lot more tender when it makes it to your plate.
It’s best to avoid peeling all vegetables that you throw into the pan. The skins on most vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. So, only remove thick skins off of vegs that aren’t edible.
Step 4. Separate Your Veggies by Cook-Time
The last step before putting your veggies in the pan is to separate them based on their cook-time. Steam vegetables that take the same amount of time to cook together.
You must cook veggies with varying cook-times separately.
If you cook all of them together, some veggies will be raw and crunchy, while others may be soggy and overcooked. Use the list of cook-times in Step 1 of this article to determine how to separate your veggies.
If you don’t have enough time to cook various vegetables separately, cut the larger ones into small pieces.
This way, it’ll have a cook-time that’s somewhat similar to other veggies you’re cooking.
Step 5. Select a Deep Pan for the Steaming Process
Now that you’ve cleaned and prepped your veggies, it’s time to begin steaming them. The very first thing you must do is select your pan.
Pick one which is deep enough to contain water and your veggies. Also, your pan should have a lid if you want to steam the food correctly.
For steaming vegetables, you can use a non-stick pan, cast iron skillet, or stainless steel pan.
It’s best if your pot is large enough to leave about a quarter of its volume empty after you’ve put everything in it.
This space will allow the steam at the top to facilitate condensation under the lid. Again, a large pan is generally best for this purpose.
However, you can settle for a smaller one if you’re only steaming small vegetables like asparagus.
Step 6. Add the Ingredients to the Pan
Once you’ve selected your ideal pan, place it atop the stove but don’t turn on the heat yet. Next, add the veggies into the pan.
Immediately after that, add approximately half an inch of water to the pan. This amount of water will be good enough to create a steaming effect in the pan.
Half an inch of water will also prevent the nutrients from boiling out the vegetables. What’s more, it won’t let the veggies burn at the bottom of your pan.
That said, you may have to increase the amount of water if the pan’s lid doesn’t close tightly. Experiment a bit to see what works best.
Step 7. Turn on the Heat on the Stove and Start Cooking
Close the lid of the pot and turn on the heat on the stove to about a medium-setting. Make sure that the lid is secure.
You don’t want the steam to escape from the pot.
If it does, it will disrupt the cooking time. In addition to that, it may ruin the texture of the veggies.
Don’t Remove the Lid When the Food Is Cooking
You must avoid removing the lid at all costs. Doing so will let the steam out, and you may ruin your final product.
Instead, you can check the heat by placing your fingers on the lid. If it’s too hot to touch, then the water is boiling.
If you want to avoid putting your fingers at risk, use a pan that has a glass lid. This way, you can see the contents of the pan when it’s cooking.
Step 8. Turn Down the Heat Once the Water Starts Boiling
Turn down the heat to a low setting soon after the water starts boiling in the pan. After that, make a note of the time.
You should then cook your veggies for the recommended amount of time, starting at this point. Don’t start timing the cook-time as soon as you turn on the heat.
You can use a timer if you want to keep your timing accurate. Once the recommended time is complete, remove the lid and check if the veggies are done.
Pierce the vegs with a knife to determine if it’s cooked or not. The vegs should be tender but should still have a bit of crunch to them.
Close the lid and let it cook for another minute or two if it seems raw to you.
Step 9. Serve your Veggies
Well, that’s just about it from the cooking part. All you must do now is remove the veggies from the heat, and begin plating.
If you’re cooking vegetables that have varying cooking times, you should set the ones cooked first aside. Place those vegetables in a covered container so that it stays warm.
Make sure to use a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs to transfer the vegetables from the pan to the plate. You can also consider inverting the entire pot into your container or plate.
However, just make sure to wear oven mitts to protect yourself.
Last Few Words
Like with all cooking, practice will significantly change how the end product smells, looks, and most importantly, tastes.
Now that you know how to steam vegetables, you can try your hand at this simple but excellent cooking method.
Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools in the kitchen—for experimentation will inevitably lead to discovery.
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