A quick and efficient way of cooking many vegetables. Put the prepared vegetables in a steaming basket or a perforated steamer set over rapidly boiling water and cover with a lid. You could use a metal sieve or colander instead of a custom-made steamer. Steam the vegetables until they are just tender.
Put the prepared vegetables into a small amount of boiling water in a saucepan. Root vegetables like potatoes and kumara require more cooking water than green vegetables. Cover and bring the water quickly back to boiling point. Cook the vegetables over a moderate heat until they are tender then drain. You can use the cooking water, which is a light vegetable stock, for sauces, soups, risotto or gravy.
ROASTING WINTER VEGETABLES
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel the vegetables if you wish – potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, parsnips, and onions – and cut them into wedges or chunks of a similar size. If you are roasting garlic, peel the cloves if you wish and leave them whole. Put 2–3 tablespoons of oil in a roasting pan and heat on top of the stove then add the vegetables and turn them over in the hot oil, season with salt and pepper and some chopped herbs if you wish. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the vegetables at least once. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Onions, carrots, mushrooms, capsicums and all green vegetables are suitable for stir-frying. Cut them into fine sticks or rounds or small florets so they will cook quickly. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan or wok and add the vegetables that need longer cooking first, for example broccoli, carrot, cauliflower or onion. Cook quickly, tossing the vegetables so that they are constantly on the move. When the first vegetables are almost cooked, add the remaining ones – mushrooms, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, spring onions – which need a shorter cooking time. Cook all the vegetables until they are tender but still crisp.
Cut the vegetables to a similar size and place in a shallow microwave dish with a small amount of water. Cover. Stir once during the cooking time and then leave the vegetables to stand for about one-third of the total cooking time, still covered. Add salt and other seasonings after cooking.