October 26, 2011

Passion For Pressure: An Eco-Friendly And Healthy Way Of Cooking

I’ve been working on my Perfect relationship over the last few months, and it has been rewarding in so many ways. My Perfect is the German pressure cooker that my Spanish Basque friend Inigo gave me a few years ago. And it is just that; it’s perfect.

I’m really not lying when saying I can’t live without it. Ed, my husband, didn’t understand why I insisted on taking it to Canada, when we moved there. My attachment to it seemed slightly absurd. The luggage restriction is such that packing this bulky item made little sense to him. It saved us when we lived in very expensive Vancouver. We survived the long rainy winter on Mexican chillis, Vietnamese Phos, Spanish Garbanzo stews, Italian tomato sauces and French lentil dishes.

At the beginning, I only used the pressure cooker for stews, but lately I’ve discovered many other ways to enjoy its perfectness.

I’m not the only one, pressure cooking is becoming fashionable again. I was listening to a trendy, experimental French cook the other day, and she was swearing by it. Among other things, she uses it to prepare her Moroccan dishes: couscous and tagines.

Pressure cooking has many advantages:

  • it’s quick: they are the greatest cooking cheat; you can cook a stew that would take up to 3 hours in as little as 20 minutes.
  • it’s healthy: you use fresh, wholesome ingredients, and barely need any fat. Dishes are cooked in liquid so all the minerals and vitamins – and the flavours – are preserved in the process.
  • it’s cheap: you can make a big quantity of food in one go with the same amount of effort. It’s ideal if you want to freeze meals in advance.
  • it’s eco-friendly: it uses very little energy as cooking time varies from 10 to 30 minutes on average. It reduces time for a slow stew from 2.30 hours to 30 minutes.
  • it’s delicious: it’s the best way I found to emulate the taste of true traditional European cooking.

One unexpected ingredient that I’ve discovered I could cook in the pressure cooker is brown rice. I’ve always struggled with brown rice; it takes forever to cook, I forget it on the stove and then it’s overcooked and not really appetizing.

In the pressure cooker, it takes two rounds to be cooked and you can make some very scrumptious fake risottos and Spanish rices very easily.



Here’s my latest autumn recipe:

Pumpkin, Mushroom and Walnut Brown Rice ‘Faux Risotto’

It’s very simple, nutritious, heart-warming, quick and healthy. There’s no tedious striring involved and yet it comes out nice and creamy.

4 people

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: two rounds of 10-15 minutes in pressure cooker

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups veggie broth or water
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Cheddar
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Chop the onion and one garlic clove finely. Sweat them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and add the second garlic clove, unpeeled. Peel and dice the pumpkin, chop the mushrooms, and add sweat them with the onion and garlic for around 5 minutes.

Add the rice, stir for 30 seconds, add salt. Pour the liquid in (broth or water). Cover and lock the pressure cooker. Cook for one round: let the pressure in until it reaches its maximum, and then remove from the hob. Let the pressure come down by itself. Repeat the process once more.

When the pressure is out, open the pressure cooker and add the grated cheese, the walnuts, grind some pepper and sprinkle some good olive oil. Stir and serve!


Pressure cooker by FotoosVanRobin on Flickr

Risotto by Edsel L on Flickr

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