One of the simplest ways to prepare fresh or even frozen vegetables is to steam them over simmering water. This method is quick, light, and retains flavor and nutritional value. As long as you take care not to overcook them, steamed in-season vegetables often taste perfectly wonderful as they are. However, if you find steamed vegetables too plain, don't want to smother them in butter, or would just like to infuse them with extra zing, here are eight things you can add to the steaming pot, basket, or bowl.
• Fresh herbs. Sprinkle chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme, or dill over steaming vegetables.
• Garlic. Add sliced or chopped garlic to winter squash or leafy greens like kale.
• Ginger. Place thinly sliced ginger at the bottom of the steaming basket and cover with carrots or other winter roots.
• Lemon. Add a few slices of lemon or lemon zest to vegetables like broccoli, green beans, and summer squash. You can also add lemon juice to the steaming water.
• Olive oil. Before steaming, toss vegetables in olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
• Sesame oil. Toss Asian vegetables such as bok choy and broccoli rabe with sesame oil, salt or soy sauce, and white pepper before steaming.
• Soy sauce. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce to the steaming water.
• Vinegar. Add a splash of balsamic, red wine, or other vinegar to steaming vegetables.
All of these ingredients can also be used to dress vegetables after they have been steamed. (Garlic or ginger should be sautéed in some olive oil until fragrant.) Another good topping for vegetables after they have been steamed is sesame salt, or gomasio.