If I had to pick a group of vegetables that I stay away from in the market it would have to be those that are classically called autumn vegetables. This fear-inducing group includes rutabaga, parsnips, turnips, and all manner of squash. This aversion has nothing to do with not enjoying these vegetables; it's just that I have a bad track record with them. I cannot cook them at home and it is certainly not for lack of trying. My roasted autumn vegetables inevitably turn out over and undercooked at the same time, and my squash is nothing more than a stringy mess. It's gotten to the point where the only vegetables that my kitchen sees during the colder months are greens and potatoes.
My fall and winter vegetable trepidation has turned me towards Lorna Sass, queen of not only vegetarian and vegan cookery, but also pressure cooking. Her recipe for Autumn Stew from Cooking Under Pressure relieves all of the nervous thinking, spicing, and basting associated with these difficult vegetables.
Using Sass's method, the ingredients are sliced, salted, and cooked for just a few minutes in the pressure cooker, then drained and sprinkled with nutmeg. Reading through the recipe makes me realize that I have been over thinking it—the ingredients should be left to stand on their own. They all possess a wonderful vegetal sweetness that doesn't need to be enhanced by anything more than a sprinkling of salt and a grating of nutmeg. I guess that is a true testament to the brilliant pressure cooker; it doesn't leave you time to overthink, or overseason for that matter.
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 3 to 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut or Hubbard squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 21/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Grated nutmeg
Pour the broth into the cooker and add the vegetables. Sprinkle on the salt.
Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting away from you to allow steam to escape.