I have to come clean. Like so many people, I am a source of frustration to my friends. One friend in particular, I know. You see, some years ago, I decided to get all into pressure cooking, bought a lovely, safe, easy to use one, and set about cooking up beans and grains. I even created a class about beans and grains, and toted the cooker along, hoping to spread the word about how well it worked. Yep, the pressure cooker was a real solution to the two basic ingredients of a healthy kitchen that people always complain about taking too long to cook.
The classes were fun, but hardly anyone wanted to take them. I taught them a couple of times to small groups of people, and went back to doing it the way my students were familiar with. And I, old dog that I am, fell back into my old ways of cooking grains and beans in a pot. When it came time to write my book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook, I tested all the grains repeatedly in the pressure cooker, so that I could put those numbers in there. And then I hung up my shiny Kuhn Rikon Duromatic, just about forgetting about it.
Fast forward to hanging out with my friend, passionate pressure cooker advocate and vegan dietitian, Jill Nussinow. Jill loves her pressure cooker, and just can’t understand why, after all these years, Americans have not come around to embracing the speedy pot. You see, Jill, also known as the Veggie Queen, isn’t one of those people who compromises on good, healthy food. No, when she found herself raising a son and living a busy life, she didn’t go over to the dark side, and use the time crunch as an excuse to stock up on frozen pizzas and mac and cheese.
Instead, The Veggie Queen made the time-saving pressure cooker a daily-use utensil at her house. In her quest to put meals that she believed in on the table, she created a repertoire of veggie filled, colorful, all whole foods meals. And thanks to her hard work, we can all learn how to make real food fast, with The New Fast Food, The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes.
Thanks to Jill, I dusted off my pressure cooker, and got cooking. I tried some of the basics, simple veggies cooked alone, grains and beans, all came out great. Indian food is always a hit at my house, so I did a test run with her recipe for Quick Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Curry (pg185) I followed her instructions, and everything cooked perfectly. Where Jill’s ease with the cooker really comes into play is in the multi-step cooking instructions. It’s not complicated, she just has it worked out so that you cook the longest-cooking thing for a while, release the pressure, add another group of ingredients, cook some more, release, and add another group, for a few minutes longer. It’s a neat trick, allowing you to move beyond just cooking beans, to cooking a full one-pot meal based on beans. It all goes quickly, really, and with the new generation of cookers, quick release on a pot is just as easy as pushing a button.
So if you are as serious about eating whole, fresh foods as you are about saving time, it’s time to listen to the Veggie Queen. This book is a valuable addition to your cookbook shelf, with all the info and motivation that you need to explore this neglected technique. Her website, http://www.theveggiequeen.com/, is also a treasure trove of free information about the wonders of pressure cooking, as well as eating more plants.
For my part, I will try to keep my pot in rotation, and sing the praises of the pressure cooker once again!
Quick Chickpea Curry with Summer Vegetables
Be aware that you need to soak the beans for this. Also- yes, it is really just one cup of water. One of the points Jill makes in the book is how the pot cooks with less water, and concentrated nutrients into the food. She also suggests that you can use whatever veggies you want in this.
10 Minutes High Pressure; Quick Release
3 Minutes High Pressure; Quick Release
1 Minute High Pressure; Quick Release
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, thickly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1-2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chickpeas, pre-soaked
1 cup water
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cups green beans, in 2 inch lengths
1 cup yellow squash (I used zucchini)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne or chipotle powder
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Heat the canola oil over medium heat in the pressure cooker, and saute the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger, curry adcumin and saute for another minute, until the mixture is very fragrant. Add the chickpeas and water.
Cover and bring to high pressure. Cook for 10, then quick release and add the potatoes, stir, and bring back to high pressure for 3 minutes.
Quick release again, and add the tomatoes, green beans, and squash.
Cover and bring to high pressure for 1 minute. Quick release, add the salt and taste to adjust the seasonings. If the mixture is too liquid, simmer to thicken. Garnish with cilantro, and serve over rice or other grain.