Dennis knows that I love kitchen gadgets and appliances, and he tends to give them to me for special occasions. Several years ago, he gave me a Vitamix for Valentine’s Day. My vegan foodie friends were in awe, and my non-foodie friends thought I was nuts for being so happy about getting a blender as a gift on a romantic holiday. Last year he saw an Instant Pot on my Amazon wishlist, and bought it for me, once again, for Valentine’s Day. I had just started Rouxbe’s Plant-Based Professional Course, for which I had a lot of cooking to do, so the Instant Pot ended up sitting in the kitchen, gathering dust on top of the fridge. After I finished Rouxbe, I continued to ignore the Instant Pot, partly because I was too lazy to figure out a new gadget, and partly because I was afraid I’d end up blowing up my kitchen. I was recently sent a review copy of Jill Nussinow’s new cookbook Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in Your Pressure Cooker, though, so I decided it was time to get in the kitchen and figure this thing out.
Before I started cooking anything, I watched a few pressure cooking YouTube videos, including some of Jill’s, to familiarize myself with the Instant Pot, since it was so foreign to me. Of course, I also read through the manual that came with the pressure cooker. Then I sat down with Vegan Under Pressure, which really does take the fear factor out of pressure cooking.
In Vegan Under Pressure, Jill explains just about everything you need to know about pressure cooking. She explains how it works, and the difference between stovetop and electric models. She also explains what a pressure cooker can do, and gives a list of guidelines to follow to follow. There are lots of handy tips and charts, and the book’s first chapter eased my pressure-cooking fears.
Many people use their pressure cookers to cook beans and grains, or do to bulk cooking for the week ahead. Jill shares bean and grain cooking basics, along with charts to let you know how much water to add to the pressure cooker and how long to cook each variety. I started my pressure cooking journey with a batch of plain chickpeas. Until now, I’ve been cooking my dried beans overnight in a slow cooker, so I wanted to see how it would compare. I also wanted to start with something easy. The beans were done in a less than an hour (they would have been done quicker if I had soaked them), and they were cooked to perfection!
Of course, pressure cooking isn’t just about beans and grains – vegetables, soups, stews, entrees, burgers, dips, sauces, and even desserts can be made in a pressure cooker, and Jill shares recipes for just about everything you could imagine in Vegan Under Pressure. I would never even think to make a cheesecake in a pressure cooker, but it’s possible! The second thing I made in my Instant Pot was Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Sauce. I chose this recipe because it required very little ingredients and only takes 3 minutes to cook. The sprouts were delicious, but they were slightly overcooked. Jill does explain that timing is everything, and different pressure cookers are going to cook foods differently. Freshness matters, as does water amounts. I think the sprouts were a little too tender because I waited aa little too long to move the quick-release valve on the Instant Pot. I didn’t mind the tenderness of sprouts – they tasted great, and I kept in mind that they were all apart of my pressure cooking experiment. Lesson learned.
After the sprouts, I made Mixed Vegetables with Peanut Sauce. This is my favorite type of meal, so I couldn’t resist. Cooking this was easy, as I was already starting to get the hang of my Instant Pot, and my delicious dinner was ready in a flash. Since I now felt like a pro, I moved on to Thai Red Curry with Winter Squash, Mushrooms, and Broccoli, which was also easy to make, and super tasty. I’m now looking through the Vegan Under Pressure and bookmarking what to try next. Narrowing it down is difficult to do, since there are so many great looking recipes!
Pressure cooking has become a go-to method of cooking quick, easy, and healthy meals for so many of my friends, and with the help of Vegan Under Pressure, I can now see why. If you’re new to pressure cooking, this book will help you get started. If you’ve been pressure cooking for a while, Vegan Under Pressure will provide you with an arsenal of new recipes!
Thai Red Curry with Winter Squash, Mushrooms, and Broccoli
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon or more minced hot chile such as jalapeño; or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup chana dal or split red lentils
- 2 pieces dried galangal slices
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1¾ cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup regular or light coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- 4 to 5 cups or more peeled cubed winter squash, such as butternut, kabocha, or acorn (1 pound)
- 4 ounces oyster mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets; or 2 cups thinly sliced kale collard greens, or Swiss chard
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
Heat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric cooker to sauté. Add the onion and dry sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and chile and cook 1 minute longer.
Add the chana dal, galangal, lime leaves, ¾ cup of the stock, the coconut milk, and curry paste. Lock the lid on the cooker. Bring to high pressure; cook for 3 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove the lid, carefully tilting it away from you.
Add the squash, mushrooms, and remaining 1 cup stock. Lock the lid back on the cooker. Bring to high pressure; cook for 3 minutes. Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, carefully tilting it away from you.
Stir in the broccoli. Lock the lid back on and let sit for 2 minutes. Carefully open the lid. Remove the galangal slices.
Transfer the contents to a large bowl. Add lime juice to taste, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.
Text excerpted from Vegan Under Pressure, © 2015 by Jill Nussinow. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo © Lauren Volo.
I have a copy of Vegan Under Pressure for one lucky reader this week. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on February 21st. Good luck!