With the holidays upon us, I find that I need more oven space than I have. I do have a great oven — three racks, six burners and lots of space — but with a big crowd it is never enough, especially since I started roasting vegetables and more.
I have learned, after lots of frustrating timing problems, to do several things to try to help the situation. I make a lot of things in advance, from deserts to chicken stock to my brisket. I love to prepare in advance, but I also like many of my foods to be as fresh as possible on the day they’re served. It’s really a contradiction and a conundrum (enough alliteration for today). I DO make many things in advance, and I DO like my foods to be made fresh.
Now I have a kitchen helper that’s become my new best friend: an Instant Pot. I know I may be late to the party. But I was given a pressure cooker for a wedding gift decades ago and after having it exploded all over the kitchen (luckily no one was in there at the time) I put it away and never used it again. So, when I heard about this Instant Pot PRESSURE COOKER, I was not at all interested. And then EVERYONE was talking about their Instant Pots as such a wonderful thing. So, I bought one.
It sat on the floor of my closet and seemed to stare, as if taunting me, every time I opened the door. When I looked at it, I’d recall the mess in my kitchen and the disaster of the failed pressure cooker decades ago.
Then, one day, a friend was at the house and we were talking about the device that was gathering dust in my closet. He was amused by my story and assured me that this feared disaster was not possible with this new machine. We took it out, cut up some vegetables, sautéed them and then added herbs and spices, more veggies, rinsed canned beans, and some veggie broth. He turned it on: I left the room! Like magic, in nine minutes, I had delicious vegetable bean soup without any explosions!
I was hooked. I have made dozens of recipes in my Instant Pot since then and I’m using it for Rosh Hashana as well.
NOTE: All of these recipes can be made in the oven or on the stove and cooked for longer periods of time.
Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Toasted Hazelnuts (Pareve)
4 Tbsp. pareve trans-fat free margarine
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 lbs. butternut squash, cut into small pieces to fit below the fill line
2 to 3 Cortland apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 to 5 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, dark amber
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 to 1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
OPTIONAL: 2 tsp. finely minced fresh sage leaves
Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Add the oil. When shimmery, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and mix until fragrant. Add the cinnamon and mix well. Add the squash, and broth and mix. Turn off the sauté function. Add the syrup and cranberries and, if using, the sage. Mix. Close and lock the lid and close the steam valve. Set to high pressure and 8 minutes. Let steam release naturally for 10 minutes and then quick release away from you.
Carefully remove the lid so it is between you and the escaping steam. Place the lid on the table and turn on the sauté function. Heat until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Mash with a potato masher and taste to adjust seasonings.
Spoon onto a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts. Serves 8 to 12.
Stewed Summer Squashes with
Olive Oil, Lemon and More (Pareve)
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
3 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
5 to 7 medium zucchini, 2-inch slices, quartered
2 to 3 yellow squash, 2-inch sliced quartered
1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
Juice from one lemon
Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Add the oil and when shimmery, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and mix well. Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the tomatoes and juice and mix well. Add the zucchini and the yellow squash.
Cover the Instant pot, close the steam valve and set to high pressure. Cook for 2 minutes and quick release the steam away from you. Remove the lid and mix. Turn the Instant Pot to sauté and cook until the liquid is reduced and the sauce thickens a little. Add the olives and lemon juice and mix to heat through. Serves 6 to 10.
Brown Rice with Shitake Mushrooms, Shallots, Leeks, and Chives (Pareve)
2 cups brown rice, rinsed
12 cups water
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white parts only
2 Tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 bunch scallions, sliced on the diagonal, white and green parts, divided
8 ounces Shitake or mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. onion bouillon or onion soup mix
1/2 to 1 cup chicken or beef broth
OPTIONAL: Toasted slivered almonds for garnish
Place the rice and water in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid, select high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Let pressure release for 15 minutes. Quick release remaining pressure away from you and open pot, putting the cover between you and the escaping steam. Drain rice, and set aside.
Set the pot on sauté and add the oil. Add the shallots, leeks, and the white part of the scallions, reserving the green. Cook until lightly golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms turn golden and reabsorb their liquid. Add the garlic and mix well. Cook another minute. Add the onion soup mix and the cup of broth and cook until half of the liquid is reduced. Add the rice back to the pot and mix to combine. Heat until completely heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the green scallions, mx and transfer to a serving plate. Serves 8 to 12.
Instant Pot Faro with Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes, and More (Pareve)
5 cups chicken, mushroom, or vegetable stock, heated and reduced to 4 cups
3 to 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, cut into pieces
8 ounces white mus rooms, sliced
1/2 cup snipped apricots
2 cups faro, rinsed
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the 5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until reduced to 4 cups. Remove from heat to cool.
Set the Instant pot to sauté. Add the oil and when shimmery, add the onion. Sauté until lightly golden and add the garlic. Mix for 1 minute. Add the carrots and celery and sauté until softened, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-6 minutes, until mush of the liquid has been reabsorbed. Add the snipped apricots and the faro and mix.
Add the cooled broth and mix to stir up any browned bits. Turn off the sauté function and cover the pot. Seal and close the steam vent. Turn to high and set cooking time for 10 minutes.
When done, let vent naturally for 10 minutes. Then quick release away from you. Open the pot so the cover is between you and the escaping steam. Mix the faro and turn the pot to sauté if there is a lot of liquid left. Mix often to avoid sticking.
Add the parsley and paprika, mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 10.
NOTES: This recipe lends itself to your own personal touches. Add different vegetables such as sweet corn or peas, kale, spinach leaves, chopped broccoli or more. Add additional seasonings such as hot pepper flakes or chopped jalapenos, chopped apples, yams or Brussels sprouts. Almost anything works with this, so choose your family’s favorites.