Cook | Pressure cooker is Veggie Queens key to vegan mastery

Jill Nussinow is a registered dietitian, cooking teacher and advocate for eating healthy, particularly when under pressure. The self-proclaimed Veggie Queen grew up watching her mom use a pressure cooker to make chicken soup and pot roast, and she adapted the time-saving technique as part of her mission “to help people eat better.”

“I became a vegetarian when I was a teenager because I didn’t like meat,” the Santa Rosa resident said. Nussinow said she avoids processed food “because I think that real food looks better, tastes better and is often less expensive to boot.”

Her second cookbook, “Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in Your Pressure Cooker” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), includes advice for choosing and using stovetop and electric pressure cookers for cooking grains, beans, vegetables, soups, main courses, sauces, desserts and more.

Cracked, roasted wheat gives Freekeh with Eggplant and Tomato its smoky flavor. Freekeh is available in Middle Eastern markets. The recipe for harissa-glazed carrots with small green olives is designed for a pressure cooker of 6 quarts or smaller. If your cooker is larger, double the recipe. The recipes are adapted for style and space.


Freekeh with Eggplant and Tomato

Serves 4

1 cup diced red onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup cracked freekeh

1/2 cup diced eggplant

13/4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes

salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Heat stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric cooker to sauté. Add onion. Dry sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and bell pepper. Cook 1 minute. Add freekeh, eggplant and stock. Lock on lid. Bring to high pressure, and once pressure is reached cook for 7 minutes, adjusting heat to keep pressure stable. Turn off heat. Let pressure come down naturally. Remove lid, tilting away from you to avoid steam. Stir in tomatoes. Lock lid on. Let sit for 2 minutes. Remove lid, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley.


Harissa-Glazed Carrots with Small Green Olives


Serves 4

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tsp. olive oil, optional

2 Tbs. maple syrup

1-2 tsp. Harissa Spice Blend plus optional 1/2 tsp. for garnish (see below)

1/4 cup vegetable stock or water

1 lb. carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch diagonal slices

1/4 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and crushed

sprinkle of salt

2-3 oz. small green olives, pitted or left     whole

Combine juice, garlic, oil, maple syrup and 1-2 tsp. harissa in small bowl. Add stock to a 6-qt. or smaller pressure cooker. Add carrots. Drizzle vegetables with harissa mixture. Do not stir. Lock on lid. Bring to high pressure. Cook for 4 minutes once pressure is reached, adjusting heat to maintain even pressure. Turn off heat. Quick release pressure (refer to manufacturer’s manual). Remove lid, tilting it away from you to avoid steam. If carrots are not cooked, lock lid on, bring back to pressure and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat. Quick release pressure. Transfer carrots to serving dish. Sprinkle with remaining harissa, cumin and salt. Drain olives and add.

Harissa Spice Blend: Toast 1 Tbs. cumin seeds and 11/2 tsp. coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat (shaking once or twice) until cumin is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Combine with 1 Tbs. paprika, 1 Tbs. chile powder, 1 tsp. ground cayenne, 1/4 tsp. caraway seeds and 1/2 tsp. salt. Place in a spice grinder (or a blender or thoroughly cleaned coffee mill). Grind until powdered. Store airtight.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at Contact her at

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at