When I was growing up on Maui I liked the food article in the Maui News by Bonnie Mandoe. I remember clipping out and trying her recipes for potato pancakes and a delicious chicken stir fry with peppers, green olives and fresh Maui fruit. She moved to the mainland when I was in high-school and published a really good vegetarian cookbook, which my mother got for me. I no longer own it, but I still cook some of the recipes from it. I think that it is called Vegetarian Nights. This simple, healthful, cheap, alchemical recipe is from that book.
Pressure steamers make slow cooking things cook much faster. I think that newer pressure cookers are less touchy than the kind I have. I will write out this recipe assuming that everyone has a touchy old fashioned pressure cooker. If yours is newer it will only be even easier! Pressure cooking imparts a nice silky texture to foods that are usually very dense or chewy. It is a good way to attack beans and winter greens. Root vegetables steamed in a pressure cooker have the most wonderful soft, smooth, comforting texture.
This recipe is super adaptable. I will write out my ideal combination of vegetables but feel free to throw in other tough winter greens, potatoes, onions, turnips, rutabegas, carrots, celeriac, yucca and giant mysterious root vegetables that you find at a Caribbean market. Umeboshi vinegar is available in health food stores and Japanese markets. It has an unusual salty, fruity flavour. The combination of fresh avocado, olive oil and ume plum vinegar on top makes the whole thing seem rich, decadent…when it is in fact cheap and healthy!
- 10 leaves of kale (I like the flat, black dinosaur kale the best)
- 2 yams or sweet potatoes
- 1 large or several small beets
- 2 parsnips
- several watermelon radishes
- fresh avocado
- extra virgin olive oil
- umeboshi plum vinegar
- fresh black pepper
- Fill a pressure cooker with a few inches of water. Place a metal steamer or rack in the bottom.
- Wash and trim the kale and place in the bottom of the steamer.
- Peel the root vegetables and cut them into large chunks. Place them on top of the kale in the steamer.
- Tighten the lid onto the steamer and place the weight on top.
- Put the steamer over high heat.
- After a several minutes the pressure steamer will begin making awful, loud noises. Let it make loud noises for seven minutes and then turn the heat off. DO NOT OPEN IT!
- Allow the noises to quiet down and then carefully lift up one side of the weight with a fork to allow some pressure to escape. When you do this, a hot blast of steam will come out, so lift the weight in a way that will aim the steam away from you! It takes few minutes of lifting the weight to let all of the pressure out.
- Once all of the pressure has been releases it is safe to undo the lid.
- Divide the vegetables onto serving plates. Scoop out half of a ripe avocado onto the top each serving. Dress each serving with a splash of olive oil, a splash of ume vinegar and fresh black pepper.