Recently I learned that my favorite method for cooking vegetables isn’t as well-known as I would have thought. It’s so simple and quick, and the vegetables turn out tasting great, which is why I must tell you how to steam-sauté vegetables, even though it doesn’t have quite the “wow factor” I normally go for when posting a new recipe.
As a recipe developer for cookbooks and magazines, I am always pushing the limits and trying to think outside the box to come up with new flavor combinations or cooking methods to make food and cooking fun and interesting. It’s part of the gig, and I love it so much that I don’t usually think of sharing some of the simplest, most basic cooking methods that I use almost daily when cooking at home. It usually takes a friend or relative to ask me how I made something for me to stop and think “hmm, maybe this method, which is second nature to me, is not as well-known to everyone”.
One such “aha moment” occurred when my brother was visiting. He’s gotten more and more into cooking over the last few years and makes really delicious food (which he did that night by making us a lamb goulash!). I simply cooked green beans and kept the kids from nagging him and whining about “when are we going to eat”. It was really pathetic that all I did was contribute green beans to a meal shared at MY house (yep, he made dessert too!), except that he thought they were some of the best green beans he’d ever had and wanted to make sure he knew exactly how I had made them so he could recreate them in his kitchen. That redeemed my efforts (or lack there-of!) a bit, and I realized then that I needed to share this veggie cooking method on my blog.
Why use the Steam-Sauté Method?
Well, for one, veggies will taste simply delicious when you cook them this way. Vegetables are not only good for your health, but to me, they taste great when cooked properly. When you start with good food and treat it well during the cooking process, keeping it simple often gives the best results.
Secondly, cooking veggies with the steam-sauté method results in high nutrition retention. Steaming a vegetable, unlike cooking it in a pot of water, allows the vegetable to hold on to more of certain types of vitamins (the water-soluble ones, in case you’re wondering). Then, when you give a vegetable a quick sauté in a little healthy cooking fat, the fat helps your body absorb other types of vitamins the vegetable contains (the fat-soluble vitamins, FYI).
Vegetables I Cook Using the Steam-Sauté Method:
(this list is by no means complete ““ I included the veggies I cook most often using the steam-sauté method)
- Green Beans/Haricot Verts
- Cauliflower (although I still prefer this veggie roasted, like this)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Potatoes (if I’m going for a pan-fried/hash brown style with thin wedges or cubes of potatoes)
- Frozen broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, carrots or cut green beans
Vegetables I DO NOT Use the Steam-Sauté Method to Cook:
My general rule of thumb is to avoid using this method for greens (kale, chard, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, spinach, etc.), vegetables that don’t work well when cooked in water (mushrooms, for example), or veggies that cook in under 3 minutes or so, such as the following:
- Summer Squash
- Snap Peas
- Snow Peas
- Sweet Bell Peppers
For veggies that cook so quickly, it’s not worth the extra step of steaming before the sauté because you can easily sauté the vegetables without them burning or cooking unevenly.
How To Steam-Sauté Vegetables How-To Photos:
Using a large skillet (I use my nonstick skillet here because it’s taller and the lid fits on well when the steamer basket is in the skillet – you can use a regular or nonstick skillet) and steamer basket, steam your favorite vegetable.
Remove the steamer basket and vegetables, pour off the water and return skillet to the stove-top (any residual water will evaporate off quickly once you turn on the heat). Add a bit of cooking oil and turn on the heat (medium heat).
Add the steamed vegetables and any seasonings or herbs you like. Sauté a few minutes.
Vegetables are done when they start to brown and are to desired tenderness.
- Steamer basket
- Large skillet with lid
- Olive oil, refined coconut oil, or other preferred cooking oil
- Salt, pepper, or other desired herbs or seasonings
- Wash vegetables. If needed, cut vegetables into smaller pieces (cut broccoli or cauliflower into florets, cut Brussels sprouts in half, coarsely chop or slice carrots or parsnips, cut potatoes into thin wedges, etc.). Add about 1 inch of water to the large skillet (enough to almost touch the bottom of the steamer basket once the basket is added to the skillet). Place steamer basket in skillet over water. Bring water to boiling. Add vegetables to the steamer basket. Cover skillet; reduce heat slightly so water continues to boil gently. Steam vegetables until they are to desired tenderness (I like to stop steaming when the veggies are crisp-tender, knowing they will cook a bit more in the sauté step).
- Using tongs or pot holders, lift up on the handle of the steamer basket to remove it from the skillet. Pour water from the skillet to discard. Place the same skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or your preferred cooking oil (the amount will vary depending on how many vegetables you have started with). Add the steamed vegetables; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and/or herbs or seasonings. Cook, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables have started to brown slightly (some veggies, such as potatoes, may take a bit longer).
- This isn’t a specific recipe, with measured amounts and cooking times because these will vary depending on how much of the vegetable you want to cook and because different vegetables will take different amounts of time to cook.
- You can use a combination of vegetables using this method. Start steaming the vegetables that will take the longest to cook. Add remaining vegetables to the steamer basket, in intervals if needed, based on how long each vegetable will take to cook.