I have a pack of mixed vegetables (peas, broccoli pieces, green beans and diced leek) that I want to steam in a two pan vegetable steamer (the bottom of the top pan is perforated).

The pack contains vegetables that are:

  • Mixed together (and cannot be easily separated).
  • Fresh not frozen.
  • The leeks are already sliced into rings.
  • The broccoli pieces are quite small.
  • I don't know what kind of peas they are.
  • The beans are a small variety of green beans. I like my vegetables "Al Dente".

I have the following questions:

  1. Do I bring the water to boiling before adding the vegetables to the top pan?

  2. How long should I steam them for?

  • Are you planning to steam them together? And are you starting with fresh veggies or frozen?
    – Stephie
    Jan 2 '17 at 16:54
  • @Stephie It's a pack of mixed vegetables, not frozen. Jan 2 '17 at 17:15
  • Are they snow peas or snap peas or shelled peas?
    – Catija
    Jan 2 '17 at 18:10
  • @Catija No idea. The package just says "Peas" :/ Jan 2 '17 at 18:12
  • 1
    @ChrisH They turned out fine - 5 minutes was perfect :) Jan 2 '17 at 19:58

Here's a guide to steaming times for vegetables.

From that guide your ingredients take:

  • peas, sugar snap, whole pea pods, trimmed - 5-6 minutes
  • beans, whole - 6-10 minutes
  • broccoli, trimmed stalks split in half or florets - 5-7 minutes
  • leeks, trimmed, cut in half - 5-8 minutes

As you can see, there's a bit of variation here in time but (assuming you're not talking about shelled peas or snow peas), it looks like 5-7 minutes should be a good starting goal.

You might be prepared to pull the peas out early or maybe start them a bit later. Unfortunately, it's a matter of taste, so times really are very flexible. With a mix like this, you're likely going to need to be willing to have some of the vegetables a bit soft and some a bit hard but some textural variation should be nice as one texture can get a bit monotonous after a while anyway.

Note, though, if your leeks are cut smaller than this, particularly if they fall apart into rings or half rings, they will likely take considerably less time to steam.

  • Great, I will try 5 minutes :) Jan 2 '17 at 18:22
  • The leeks are pre-sliced into rings. Jan 2 '17 at 18:24
  • @DavidPostill if they stay in a ring rather than separating into the individual layers, you'll probably be ok.
    – Catija
    Jan 2 '17 at 18:26
  • 5 minutes was perfect. I really enjoyed my Chicken Goujons and Steamed Vegetables :) Jan 2 '17 at 19:57

Al dente vegetables don't take long at all in the steamer. The precise time will depend on which vegetables you use; how small you cut them; whether you live in Denver, Tibet, or at the beach; and your exact interpretation of the al dente concept ...which will likely vary (even for you) from vegetable to vegetable. E.g.: Carrots - no good hard (my feeling). But peas? - those cook almost instantly. In fact, they're great raw. I like to reserve them in a frozen state, and let them thaw in the pot after everything else is done.

I can't imagine anyone being able to prescribe exactly a correct cooking time for this. If you experiment you will very soon get a feel for how you like them done. You can even use a timer and take notes, to be truly "scientific" about it.

It does help to have all the vegetables cut to roughly the same size. (The smaller they are, the faster they cook, of course).

You'll probably get more repeatable results if you put the vegetables in after the water is boiling, although it shouldn't really matter to the quality of the finished product.

  • Thanks. That clears it up a bit. I will try letting the water boil first and then taste at regular intervals :) Jan 2 '17 at 17:23
  • OK my rough guess, from sea level (haha), maybe let them steam for a minute & a half over furiously boiling water. ...Hope that's not wildly wrong
    – Lorel C.
    Jan 2 '17 at 17:27
  • 1
    A minute and a half will not be nearly sufficient for broccoli...
    – Catija
    Jan 2 '17 at 17:28
  • I'm at sea level. Will give you some feedback later tonight :) Jan 2 '17 at 17:28
  • @Catija Even small pieces? Jan 2 '17 at 17:29

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