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Can I Steam Vegetables While I Cook Rice?

by
author image Judy Wilson
Judy Wilson has writing and editing expertise in health, technology, pets, business and travel. She has contributed to USAToday.com, SFGate.com and numerous other publications. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she completed Mini Medical School.
Can I Steam Vegetables While I Cook Rice?
Broccoli in prep bowl. Photo Credit Sarsmis/iStock/Getty Images

Rice and vegetables tend to be common staple items that you can use in many types of meals, from comfort food poultry dishes to casseroles to Asian-style recipes. Cooking them can be relatively simple, quick and easy. You can make this process even more streamlined by steaming vegetables while cooking rice. You can cook these two tasty and healthy menu items at the same time in a few different ways. Vegetables that you can steam run the gamut and include broccoli, carrots, celery, zucchini squash, yellow squash, onions, garlic and dark leafy greens. Brown and white rice are a couple of kinds of rice that you can cook while vegetables steam.

Vegetables and Rice

If you have a saucepan with a steamer insert that fits inside of it, you can cook rice in the saucepan and steam the vegetables in the steamer insert at the same time. You cook the rice in the lower saucepan and place the vegetable-filled steamer insert above that. The steam rises from the cooking rice and steams the vegetables. You can also cook the two items at the same time by cooking rice in a saucepan while steaming vegetables in a separate pan on a different stove burner. A third way to cook both items at the same time is to cook rice in a covered glass baking dish in the oven while steaming vegetables in a saucepan on the stove.

Method

It takes longer to cook rice than it takes to steam vegetables. Thus, for example, if it takes 45 minutes to cook brown rice and 10 minutes or less to steam vegetables, start steaming the vegetables about 10 minutes before you expect the rice to be done. Also, some vegetables steam more quickly than others. For example, firmer vegetables like carrots generally take longer to steam than thinly sliced zucchini squash. Depending on the altitude and humidity level where you are cooking the rice and vegetables, the rice and vegetables might cook faster or slower.

Benefits

Steaming vegetables while you cook rice, in the same pan, makes kitchen cleanup quicker and more streamlined, because you use one pan and lid for preparing two dishes. Cooking in this way also simplifies your cooking preparations and most likely will save you some time. Also, you only use one burner on your stove, so you save electricity by cooking two dishes on one burner in this way. If you are cooking several dishes at once, such that you need several burners on your stove, cooking rice and vegetables using just one burner leaves the three other burners on your stove free for cooking other items.

Considerations

When you steam vegetables while you cook rice in the same pan, some liquid from the vegetables might drip through the steamer pan into the rice. By the same token, as the rice steam rises into the steaming pan where the vegetables are steaming, some of the rice steam might slightly alter the flavor or consistency of the vegetables. This might cause the rice to take on some flavor from the vegetables, or vice versa. However, depending on which vegetables you are steaming and how you want the rice to taste, you might enjoy this slight taste variation. If possible, use filtered water when you cook rice and vegetables.

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