HS: This is how I put together a sample of steamed vegetables. I use a three-tiered bamboo steamer, the sort that is available in most culinary shops.
a sampling of seasonal vegetables
flaky sea salt
to finish: good olive oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, or shallot oil
equipment: a bamboo basket steamer, preferably three levels. And, your steamer needs to fit inside your cooking skillet.
Wash your vegetables well, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I tend to leave peels on, but it is a personal preference. Arrange them, in a single layer, in steamer trays according to needed cooking time. For example:
Bottom tray: equal-sized chunks of slower-cooking vegetables. For example: sweet potato, potato, winter squash, beets. These usually cook through in about ten minutes.
Middle-tray: equal sized pieces of broccoli, cauliflower
Top-tray/last minute: asparagus, fava beans (inner pods), snap peas
Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a skillet large enough to accommodate the diameter of your steamer. Alternately, you can use a wok. The water should not be so high that it makes contact with the vegetables when the steamer is placed in the skillet - do a quick test if needed, and remove some water if needed.
The goal here is to have your vegetables perfectly cooked and ready to serve just before you sit down. And, ideally, all of the vegetables finish cooking at the same time. Here's how you do it. Roughly ten minutes before you're ready to serve, place the slow-cooking, bottom tray vegetables over the simmering water, covered. Let them steam there until they're about 2/3 cooked, about 6-7 minutes. Test, and cut into any root vegetables toward the end to make sure they're going to be cooked through. The mid tray only needs 3-4 minutes, so add that next, moving the lid up a level. And the top tray vegetables, like snap peas and asparagus, just need a kiss of steam to brighten, barely a minute. Add that last. Or if you only have two baskets, add these to the broccoli/cauliflower basket to finish. You'll have to make slight adjustments based on the sizes of your vegetables, but this is the general idea. Cook them until they're bright, just tender, and taste good to you.
I like to quickly arrange the steamed vegetable, nested, in one basket to serve along with a drizzle of good oil - toasted sesame, shallot, olive oil, herb, etc. With a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
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