South Florida Gardening

I was never particularly a fan of steamed vegetables, until I went on a special diet to improve my health a year and a half ago – which was basically eating mostly steamed organic veggies along with certain types of protein. I stuck to this diet pretty religiously as I was facing some surgeries and wanted to be in tip-top shape. Well, it worked! Within a month, I felt much stronger, had more energy and as a side effect I had lost 10 pounds! I did not set out to lose that weight, but it was a welcome bonus.

Cutting board with cut up veggies and ingredients for miso-tahini sauce

Ready to go!

To this day, I continue to gladly eat steamed vegetables, almost on a daily basis. I often have them for breakfast with a poached egg over the greens or as a simple omelet alongside the veggies. It’s a great way to start my day, and no, I truly don’t mind eating veggies for breakfast. I feel great after eating them, and I have come to love their pure and simple tastes at any time of the day. I tend now to have them either for breakfast and/or lunch, and then eat a “normal” dinner with my family. “Normal” means we don’t eat a lot of steamed vegetables with dinner, but actually sometimes we do, like fresh green beans, broccolini, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus…

Poached egg over steamed vegetables

Breakfast!

Early on in my steamed veggie routine, I developed my own adaptation of a tahini-miso sauce. I don’t remember where I first saw the idea, so I can’t give specific credit. However, I am including my version of it in the attached recipes. I love this sauce, and it is so easy to put together while the vegetables are steaming. Of course, there are many sauces one could make to accompany steamed vegetables. Sometimes I just use leftover sauces from other dishes I’ve made, like the yogurt sorrel sauce (pictured below) or a parsley oil (by Yotam Ottolenghi) that is so delicious.

Steamed vegetables with sorrel sauce

Steamed veggies with sorrel sauce

I cannot overstate how wonderful it is to have an organic garden to pick fresh veggies from, and to have a variety for steaming that meets most of my daily needs. While my staples have become carrots, kale and green beans, I love adding in other ingredients on an as-available basis: kohlrabi, broccoli, turnip, beets, and so on.  See our posts Spring Harvest (1) and Spring Harvest (2) for an idea of the variety of veggies we grow.  I do supplement from the market when needed, especially in our off-season (summer).

A note about steamers: I have a very nice, high quality steamer set I bought years ago from Demeyere Sirocco which is unfortunately no longer made. There is a company named Atlantis which makes a similar set (the top half is pictured below), which I’ve no experience with. I love using a steamer pot which is basically one solid pot on the bottom and another that sits above it with holes in the bottom. Also, a search on Amazon yields many different stainless steamer pots as well.

top half of a steamer set

Top half of Atlantis steamer

When I travel, I often stay in rentals with kitchens, and so I take along a simple stainless steamer that opens up to fit most medium to large pots. It is very inexpensive and can actually be used on a daily basis, as I did many years ago.steamer basket

Steamer basketA few of my friends have bought a Cuisinart digital electric steamer, which I have tried and it works well. Since I already have my Demeyere and enjoy the timing I have down for different veggies, as well as cooking on my gas stove, I am sticking to that. But the electric is very efficient and convenient, I must say. It does take up counter space!

electric steamer

Cuisinart electric steamer

Steamed vegetables may seem like a boring way to eat, but I would never want to do without them now! I feel great after eating, with good energy and unnoticeable digestion. With a little added protein, I am good to go for many of my meals! And I am happy to know that most of the nutrients in my veggies are maintained when steaming is the cooking method. It’s interesting how a return to simplicity can become so enjoyable, and beneficial as well.

So I want to show the sequence I follow with steaming vegetables here. I like to cut up the harder veggies, such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and sweet potatoes, into uneven chunks. I do this because they seem to be more manageable in the steamer together, rather than having all circular, flat chunks. So after boiling my water in the lower pot, I place the steamer basket on top with my harder-core vegetables.

carrots and kohlrabi in a steamer

Steaming – first step, harder vegetables

The second step is placing my medium density or texture veggies in – such as green beans, broccoli stems, cauliflower, apples (yes, a fruit), etc. When I do this is a matter of learning through practice – I generally give the hardest veggies (carrots, etc.) about a five minute head start on the medium hardness ones.

steamer with assorted vegetables

Next layer – medium hardness veggies

And lastly, I put in my greens and any very soft veggies such as snow peas or even broccoli if I want it firm. I have read recent research that the optimal time to steam kale is four minutes in order to retain its nutrient value; I generally go about five minutes as I tend to steam at a fairly low boil and like a nice wilted consistency.

kale leaves in a steamer pot

kale goes last – on top of other veggies

When they are all done, I turn them out onto a plate. I do not butter and salt them (as I do when steaming vegetables for my family). I love them plain, or with my miso-tahini dressing – see attached recipe!

Bon appetit!

Miso-Tahini Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

Miso-tahini with lemon is my go-to sauce to accompany my steamed vegetables. I like to make enough to last a few days, as it keeps that long and I love always having it available. It adds a nice nutritional and protein boost to the veggies, along with other protein I might eat for the meal. 

I discovered a really wonderful tahini last year called "Soom" (available on Amazon). It is just supreme - so smooth and delicious, and of course more expensive than other brands. What I do for this sauce is mix the Soom half-and-half with another kind of tahini. Right now I am favoring a brand called "Once Again." The combo works well for this sauce. 

When it comes to the miso, I have always found the Cold Mountain brand to be excellent. I use their Mellow White miso (I tried yellow once, no, not good for this sauce!). The miso keeps for a very, very long time. 

This is a very simple sauce to make - it can be easily done while veggies are steaming so everything's ready at once. I like adding fresh herbs from the garden - usually parsley, sometimes garlic chives (or both) - whatever your heart desires. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 Tb tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 Tb water
  • 2 1/2 tsp white miso
  • 2 Tb lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • few sprigs parsley Optional
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted Optional
Instructions
  1. Make sure your tahini is stirred to a well-mixed constitution in the jar before using. Place 2 Tb of the tahini in a bowl with the water and stir well with a fork until very smooth. 

    tahini and water mixture in a bowl
  2. Add the miso paste and lemon juice to the tahini mix and stir well to combine. Taste for each ingredient and add as needed; if too thick add more water or lemon juice. 

  3. Chop the parsley into small bits and add to the miso-tahini mix along with the toasted sesame seeds. Or add any herb/seed/nut mixture you like to the sauce, to your liking. 

    chopped parsley and sesame seeds on miso-tahini sauce
  4. Stir well to combine. Serve with steamed vegetables. 
    miso-tahini sauce, finished

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