Eating enough veggies is difficult, and preparing them can be time-consuming. Steaming veggies is an simple and fast way to get healthy, edible food on the table fast. No special gadgets required!
Steamed veggies taste great when you get them at a restaurant, but making them at home can seem overwhelming. But we’re here to help clarify the process and make you a pro at making veggies taste great while being great for you!
Why are steamed veggies better for you? Because the water doesn’t touch/hardly touches the vegetable, it doesn’t leech out the more fragile vitamins. Why do they taste better? Because they haven’t had their natural flavor cooked out or drowned in sauce, you can actually enjoy the taste of the vegetable itself.
Lots of veggies steam well, especially sturdier veggies like green beans and broccoli. Since green beans are in season and a perfect side dish for Easter, we’ll focus on how to prep them, then we’ll provide some info on how to prepare other veggies.
Pro Tip: You don’t actually need a steamer to make steamed veggies. As long as you have a metal colander or strainer, you can do this.
How to Steam Green Beans
Green beans are a great dinner side dish, but sometimes you want more than what canned green beans can bring to the table. Fresh green beans make the perfect side, especially for an Easter dinner. They’re cheap, easy, healthy, and look and taste like they’re way harder to make than they are.
Start with a medium sized sauce pan, and a steamer or colander that fits inside the pan. If it mostly fits, that’s fine. The top can stick out, but you still need to keep a lid on to keep the steam in and cook your veggies.
Add about one inch of water and bring the water to a full boil.
While you’re boiling the water, prepare the beans. Wash them with water, and pull out any beans that are wilted, limp or otherwise don’t look great.
Cut off the tips of the beans; and if you want to have an even more elegant look, only remove the stem side tips, and leave the other tip.
Pro Tip: you can line up a handful of beans and cut their tips at the same time. This really speeds up the process.
When the water is at a full boil, add the beans and cover. Turn the heat down to medium high so it doesn’t boil over. The beans only need to cook for 4-6 minutes, depending on how al dente you like them and if you’re going to sauté them after steaming them.
Pro Tip: The water should not be higher than the bottom of the steamer; otherwise it will boil the vegetable and cause it to break down and lose its good texture, as well as cook out the vitamins.
Drain the green beans by lifting the strainer out and dumping the water. Be sure not to burn your hands on the steamer.
Pro Tip: Use a wooden spoon handle or tongs to lift the steamer out without burning your fingers or getting the hot pad wet.
You can serve the beans fresh out of the water, or with a little salt and pepper.
But if you want to really up your game, you can give them a quick sauté to add a little more flavor.
Add two tablespoons butter and one to two cloves garlic to the pan, and cook it on medium low heat for about one minute, until the garlic is cooked but not burned. You’ll know the garlic is cooked when it smells so good you want to lick the spoon.
Add the green beans and toss to coat and salt with a coarse salt, and serve.
Pro Tip: Add the salt at the very end to preserve the crystal structure of the salt on the veggie, giving it a blast of flavor when you bite into it. Adding it earlier will just make the whole dish taste salty.
Steamed Green Beans with Garlic and Butter
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, tips removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
This makes 3-4 servings,
Cooking Times and Info on Other Veggies
Prepare veggies by cutting them down to a one or two bite size, which helps them cook quickly and evenly, and makes them easier to manage on the plate.
Pro Tip: You know your veggies are done when they are slightly tender when poked with a knife, but also watch for them to turn a beautiful bright technicolor version of what they looked like raw. That’s when they’re perfect. Cook them too long and they begin to look dull.
Follow steaming and sauteing guidelines above for any of these veggies. Do not overcook the veggies, as they will be limp and less tasty.
Steam 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of the stalk
Toss in butter, garlic and salt, or butter, salt and pepper, or butter, lemon and salt
Steam 4-6 minutes
Simply add salt and pepper, or toss with lemon juice too, or add butter, lemon and salt
Steam 9-12 minutes, depending on width of carrot
Toss with butter, thyme, salt and pepper, or with butter, brown sugar, and salt
Steam 5-6 minutes
Toss with butter, salt and pepper, or olive oil, thyme and salt
Summer Squash or Zucchini
Steam 4-6 minutes
Toss with butter, salt, and pepper, or with olive oil and grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top