By Sara Turnasella, “virtual intern”
As someone who is new to pressure cooking, I must say I feel like I’ve been in the dark for a very long time. I’d heard of the pressure cooker before, but never realized the effect it would have on my diet. Having the ability to cook veggies, grains, and beans quicker than I ever thought possible has been nothing short of miraculous.
When I first got my electric pressure cooker, I opened the box and was a little intimidated by it. I had never used anything like it before, and I was afraid that I would injure myself or break it somehow. But after reading through some recipes and guidelines, and watching a few instructional videos, my pressure cooker and I became fast friends.
Now I look at my frozen vegetarian burritos and think, “Wow, I can do so much better than that!” Because it is so easy to make delicious and nutrient-packed food, I sometimes find myself using my pressure cooker multiple times during the day. My energy level, mood, and overall health has been steadily increasing ever since pressure cooking has come into my life, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
Here are some tips I have for anyone who is new to pressure cooking:
- Start small! If it makes you feel more comfortable, keep things nice and simple. Try cooking something easy like greens in a little broth and your favorite spices. Learn how to make your own vegetable stock by watching this video of Jill.
- Be safe! Even with lots of safety features, it’s still very important to protect yourself. Make sure the lid of your pressure cooker is tilted away from you when you open it up. Even if you have opened the valve and released the steam, there will still be plenty of steam left inside and you don’t want to burn yourself.
- Have fun! Be adventurous, and get creative with your pressure cooking. Invent your own recipes, or add a new twist on old favorites. My pressure cooker has a tendency to be very forgiving. Even if I don’t quite know what the end result will be, I know that flavors and nutrients will all be locked in.
- Get a good pressure cooking cookbook like the one that Jill wrote, The New Fast Food. It provides advice, cooking charts and recipes that will get you up, running and using your cooker quickly. Pay attention when using the manual/cookbook that comes with the pot as the times might not be correct.
I have had so much fun playing with some of my old favorite recipes which I once so rarely had the time to make, and now can easily fit into my routine. One of those dishes is called “Gagoots”, which is Italian slang for zucchini. It can be made any number of ways, sometimes with pasta and different vegetables. My aunt makes it during the holidays, and it’s a great simple side dish: warm, comforting, and truly delicious. I can’t wait to show her how quickly I can make it now!
My aunt makes this for the holidays. It serves 4 of us easily, depending upon who is eating vegetables that day. I always do.
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 med potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 med zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup vegetable broth (for how to make it in the pressure cooker, watch this video)
Sauté onion in olive oi, if using, for about one minute or dry sauté with the sauté feature. Add garlic, potatoes, and zucchini, cherry tomatoes, with 1 tbsp of the vegetable broth, and sauté for another minute. Switch to pressure cooking and add the remaining vegetable broth, bay leaf, oregano, and salt. Pressure cook for 5 minutes. Then quick release the pressure, carefully removing the lid, tilting it away from you. Remove the bay leaf.
Editor’s note: I would consider this more of a summer recipe but if you live in a place such as Florida that has these vegetables in season, then cook them or wait until the summer.