Well, how long does it take you to read a book? Kind of depends on the book, doesn't it? Same thing with vegetables. Of course, it also depends on how well cooked you want the vegetables - there are some chefs these days who think if you don't crack a tooth on a piece of carrot, it's overdone. And many Southerners simply want their green beans to melt down to a pudding. Somewhere in between is our general guide for steaming vegetables. Make adjustments to suit your own preferences.

Steaming is a wonderful way to cook most vegetables. Because it is so gentle, it allows them to retain more of their shape, color, texture, flavor, and nutrition. It's also not very complicated. Make sure the water in your pan doesn't touch the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil before adding the vegetables to the basket. Cover and cook. Make sure the water doesn't boil away; add more boiling water to the pan as necessary.

Vegetable Steaming Time Artichoke, medium 40 minutes Asparagus, thin spears thick spears 3 to 4 minutes5 to 6 minutes Beets 30 to 35 minutes Broccoli, florets spears 4 to 5 minutes5 to 6 minutes Brussels sprouts 7 to 11 minutes Cabbage, cut in wedges 6 minutes Carrots, cut 1/4-inch thick 6 to 8 minutes Cauliflower, head florets 12 to 15 minutes4 to 6 minutes Corn on the cob 5 minutes Green beans 4 to 5 minutes Kale 4 to 5 minutes Parsnips, 1-1/2-inch pieces 8 to 10 minutes Peas 2 minutes Potatoes, new 2-inch pieces 12 minutes15 minutes Spinach 4 to 5 minutes Sweet potatos, whole 1-inch pieces 40 to 50 minutes12 to 15 minutes Winter squash, peeled, 2-inch pieces 15 to 20 minutes Zucchini, 1/4-inch slices 5 to 7 minutes