Vegetables finish tender and crisp in minutes in a microwave oven. Because the cooking time is so brief, color, flavor, and nutrients are preserved.
Use a heatproof glass or plastic dish labelled safe for the microwave. Remember the following hints for best results. Have vegetables in similar-sized pieces. If cooking different vegetables in the same dish, be sure that they require the same amount of time. Thick stems, such as those of broccoli and asparagus, should point outward to the sides of the dish. Be sure to pierce potatoes or squash or any other whole vegetables cooked in their skin, or they might explode from a buildup of steam. To envelop vegetables in steam as they cook, cover the dish with a lid or with heavy plastic wrap (film). Most microwave recipes specify standing time in addition to cooking time, as microwaves continue to move through the food even after the dish is removed from the oven; after cooking, set the dish aside, still covered, for the amount of time indicated.
Herb butter is an ideal topping for steamed vegetables, whether prepared in a microwave or on the stove. It may be made ahead, wrapped, and frozen until needed.
Adding Water to Vegetables
Arrange similar-sized pieces of vegetables in an even layer in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, depending on the vegetable and the amount.
If the dish doesn’t have its own lid, cover it with a sheet of microwave-safe plastic wrap (film). Cover the dish tightly, stretching the wrap (film) so it rests smoothly across the dish. Turn back one corner of the wrap (film) to serve as a vent for steam to escape.
Halfway through cooking, carefully peel back the plastic wrap (film) and stir the vegetables to rearrange them so that they get equal exposure to the microwaves. If cooking big pieces, like broccoli stems, turn the ends that were facing the sides of the dish toward the center.
Butter or Margarine
Perfectly microwave-steamed vegetables have a vivid appeal when topped with herbed butter or margarine.