Turkey and broccoli mash meatballs with Lemony tomato sauce and feta. Photo by Christine Burns Rudalevige

“Now we’re cooking with gas!”

First aired on radio shows in the late 1930s, the slogan was coined by the natural gas industry to persuade Americans to use gas-powered stoves. Nearly 100 years later, I love the power and control gas-fired burners give me, but continuing to cook on them is starting to feel like the wrong track.

It’s well-documented that fossil fuels contribute to climate change. There’s also a growing body of evidence that burning natural gas in your home may have short- and long-term effects on respiratory health; scientists have long said natural gas in the home emits pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide. Studies also show that unburned natural gas, which contains well-known carcinogens, leaks from stoves.

Gas ranges have been pulled into America’s culture wars. Pro-fossil fuel pundits, Tik Tokers and politicians rang in 2023 with (false) clanging alarms about federal bans on gas stoves. They spread these rumors after a member of the Consumer Products Safety Board, in response to a question, benignly commented that any consumer product deemed unsafe could be subject to a ban.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives in June passed two bills – the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, and the Save Our Gas Stoves Act. Both bills stalled in the Senate, and the feds haven’t revisited the issue. But more than two dozen states have passed laws that prohibit bans on new gas hookups. Maine legislators voted down a similar ban.

I certainly don’t fear my mega-BTU Wolf natural gas range being ripped from its Brunswick hookup in the near future. In fact, we dropped a good chunk of change on a tuneup last summer so I’m not in the market for a new range. But in our rented East London flat, I am learning the ins and outs of getting dinner on the table with the technology that’s emerging as the top contender to cooking with gas, an electric-powered induction hob.


Flat-topped ceramic glass hobs have mostly replaced the older solid plate cooktop of the 20th century, which are slow to heat and cool. The new models use metal coils that sit just under the glass and get hot from an electric current. Through a process called thermal conduction, the heat transfers to the ceramic glass surface, then to the pan and finally to the food inside the pan.

Induction cooktops — also powered by electricity and sporting flat, tempered glass tops — use copper coils fitted just below the surface to create electromagnetic currents between pans sitting on the surface. The direct connection means the vessel heats quickly and evenly with much less energy getting lost.

But to make the magnetic fields connect, you must use pans made of cast iron, enameled iron or nickel base stainless steel. To see if your pans will work on an induction hob, place a magnet against the pans’ bottoms. If a pot holds the magnet, you’re all set. Folks who are committed to induction love it with all their hearts. (That said, if you rely on a pacemaker, the British Heart Foundation recommends that if you stay at least 2 feet away from any induction hob.)

Just last summer my landlords installed the AEG Electrolux induction hob I’ve been using to replace an old ceramic glass one; the building is not equipped for natural gas. Both the cook (he’s called Andy) and the cleaner upper (she’s called Stephanie) of the couple prefer the new hob to its predecessor. Stephanie says cleanup is a breeze. Because the glass surface doesn’t get hot, spilled liquids or solids don’t get baked on.

“Having spent a lifetime as a firm supporter of gas, I’ve been persuaded that induction is better,” Andy said. “I love cranking it up to the maximum to bring it to the boil quickly.”

Induction offers more power as well as more control over heat levels on the burners, whether they’re set to high or low. The very lowest setting will melt chocolate perfectly; no need to pull out the double boiler. The second-lowest setting gives just the right amount of heat to produce an amazingly clear chicken stock.


In their second home in France, although gas is an option, Andy and Stephanie opted for another induction cooktop. It’s a growing global market, standing at $8.7 billion in 2022 and expected to grow to $14.3 billion by 2031.

In the two months I’ve been regularly cooking with induction heat, I’ve picked up a few tricks. To begin with, I’ve gotten used to the bells and whistles. Or rather the whistles and beeps. Sometimes, depending on the finish on your cooking vessel, you hear a pulsing or soft buzzing when using a burner on a lower setting. This is the magnetic fields doing their work, and it’s completely normal.

The beeps are a constant. You hear beeps when you press the control panel to turn the stove on, turn on a burner without a pan in place, turn it up or turn it down. Newer models swap the control keypad with the knobs we’re accustomed to on our gas stoves, so those beeps may soon go away.

Second, pan size matters. The base of a saucepan or a sauté pan must be about the same size as the cooking zone it sits on to activate it. A small or medium-sized pan won’t work well when placed on the largest zone. Manufacturers have adapted to this magnetic reality by creating flexible bridging zones that accommodate large, small and oval- shaped pans in a sort of Venn diagram configuration.

Third, you’ll need to get used to the instant heat. You know the adage, “a watched pot never boils?” Induction makes that obsolete. Seeing a large pot of water for pasta hit a rolling boil in two minutes flat is a wonder to behold for any busy cook. But failing to notice that a skim coat of oil in a sauté pan gets smoking hot in less than 30 seconds is dangerous, smoky and smelly.

Fourth, be aware that once your pan of rice, for example, reaches a boil, the liquid will keep going, rising up and over the sides faster than it would on a gas stove. The more efficient heat transfer is responsible. When you see the expanding foam, trust the system and lower the heat. The instant de-escalation from angry bubbles to serene simmer is also fun to watch.


Lastly, you are going to love the sear you get on every steak, from an aged beef ribeye to a vegan cauliflower. Thank the even heat. But bear in mind that the same even heat means you must factor in evaporation when cooking long-simmering sauces, soups or stews. I’ve learned to add an extra cup of liquid to the pot for every hour it cooks on an induction hob.

While it’s new to me, and if you’ve read to the end of this piece, maybe to you too, the first patent for induction cooking dates all the way back to the early 1900s. The Frigidaire division of General Motors was giving cooking demonstrations on it in the mid-1950s.

Today, the technology has advanced and costs less, and at the same time consumers are keen on green energy. In response, the industry is manufacturing more induction ranges than ever. To further encourage consumers to buy the stoves, the federal government has set up financial incentives. My own incentive to you is this delicious recipe for turkey and broccoli meatballs, which is a little involved but definitely worth it. Though it can be cooked on any type of stove, it highlights the wonders of induction.

The broccoli that will go into the meatballs cooks on an induction stove. It must be very soft and mashable, which requires a two-step cooking process. Photo by Christine Burns Rudalevige

Turkey and Broccoli Mash Meatballs with Lemony Tomato Sauce and Feta

Incorporating green vegetables into your turkey meatballs makes them more flavorful, tender and moist, a trick I learned from ca elebrated British chef and cookbook writer, Yotam Ottolenghi. He mixes zucchini into his turkey burgers, and they are lovely. To be a plausible mix-in, the broccoli I use in my meatballs must be very soft, so I turn to an old Italian technique of cooking the heck out of it — allow yourself plenty of time for this step. I often treble the broccoli, setting the extra aside for a delicious pasta sauce or omelet filling.

Makes 24 meatballs and 3½ cups of sauce


Kosher salt
1 medium head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into spears
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 pound ground turkey
½ to ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
Black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the broccoli spears into the water and cook for 3-4 minutes until they are bright green and just starting to become fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a bowl. Cover the pot of water and set it aside. You’ll reuse it to cook the pasta.

In a large skillet over low heat, warm the 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon garlic and the red chili pepper flakes. Add the blanched broccoli, stir to combine and cook until you can mash the broccoli, stems and all, with a fork. This should take about 45 minutes. Transfer the broccoli mash to a bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and taste the mixture. If you like a real lemony zing, add more lemon juice. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Add the ground turkey, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, egg and 1 teaspoon salt to the broccoli mash. Combine the ingredients gently but thoroughly. If the mixture is too loose to easily form meatballs, add the remaining 1/4 breadcrumbs. Form the mixture into 24 (1½-inch) meatballs and place them on the prepared baking sheet, without any bumping up against each other. Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven until they are firm on the outside and cooked through, 15-18 minutes.

In the meantime, put the large pot of water you reserved back on the heat and bring it to a boil.  To a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining tablespoon of garlic. Place over medium low heat. Let the garlic sizzle for no more than 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and chicken broth.

Simmer the sauce while you cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. When the spaghetti is done, remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the lemon zest and black pepper, to taste. Add the cooked meatballs and stir gently to combine.

Serve the spaghetti hot with healthy servings of sauce and meatballs, topped with feta cheese.

Local foods advocate Christine Burns Rudalevige is the former editor of Edible Maine magazine and the author of “Green Plate Special,” both a column about eating sustainably in the Portland Press Herald and the name of her 2017 cookbook. She can be contacted at: cburns1227@gmail.com.

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