Shh!….Don’t tell my husband….I’m in love.
The object of my affections has opened my world to a whole new range of possibilities. I’ve been experimenting with things I never would have tried before. My repertoire has expanded greatly.
I am of course talking about my pressure cooker! (What were you thinking?)
This essential piece of equipment in my kitchen has certainly changed the way I approach cooking now. I’m cooking more soups and stews and cooking with ingredients that I wouldn’t have bothered with before. Healthy dinners for the kids are cooked in no time at all. Life is easier with a pressure cooker because I can cook without too much advance planning.
What I love about food cooked in the pressure cooker is that each ingredient seems to retain its integrity whilst at the same time it melds with all the other ingredients and flavours. Meat retains its moisture and texture even though it becomes melt-in-the-mouth tender, absorbing flavours from the foods it is cooked with. Soups are easy to cook as there is very little evaporation of liquid, allowing you to see how much liquid you’ll end up with.
One of the things I make regularly in the pressure cooker is minestrone. It takes next to no time and is a great way to get a good hit of vegies into your body. When I crave cleansing food this is what I make.
I’ve adapted this recipe from my mum’s way of making minestrone. It’s a recipe that can be made all year round and adapted to your taste. If you want something heartier just add some soup pasta at the end. Leave out the potatoes if you want something really light. Add other vegetables according to the season. If you don’t have canned tomato, use fresh tomato or tomato paste instead. Leek is optional but really adds another dimension of flavour. Serve with some grated pecorino or parmesan if you like.
Some recipe books suggest adding vegetables at different times in the pressure cooking process. This involves releasing pressure from the cooker, opening and closing it, bringing to pressure again, timing again, etc. etc. I’m all about simple and efficient so this to me seems like a colossal pain in the bum. I’ve never done this and don’t find it a problem.
Most importantly, this dish benefits from a couple of days sitting in the fridge. The flavours really develop over time so prepare it in advance.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 leek (optional), finely sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
2 litres water
In a large pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and leek. Add a pinch of cooking salt and sweat the onions and leek over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
When the onion and leek are coated in oil and beginning to soften, add the garlic and stir to combine.
As the onion and leek soften, chop the carrot into 1cm dice. Add to the pot with a pinch of salt and stir, continuing to sweat the mixture over medium heat.
As soon as the carrot is added, peel and chop the potato into 1cm dice. Add to the pot with a pinch of salt, stir and continue to sweat the mixture.
As soon as the potato is added, cut the zucchini into 1cm dice. Add to the pot with a pinch of salt and stir.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and more salt to taste and stir the mixture to combine.
Add the water.
Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. When pressure is reached turn heat down to the minimum required to maintain pressure and cook for 7 minutes. Turn heat off and reduce pressure using the natural release method.
For a heartier soup you can add pasta. Bring to the boil uncovered and add pasta. Boil until pasta is cooked and serve immediately.
I’d love to hear your variations on minestrone and whether you have a love affair with your pressure cooker!