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How to Cook Vegetables in Your Microwave Oven


Use your microwave more often

The microwave is underused for cooking from scratch. Anything that can be steamed, blanched or boiled, can be prepared faster and probably better in a microwave is an easy, quick and tasty way to cook vegetables. I’ll be showing how to cook fresh vegetables – frozen ones just need to use the directions on the package. An added bonus is you’ll loose fewer vitamins and other nutrients when microwaving.
Once microwaved, drain the water if any and the vegetables can be used directly, or as part of another recipe. For example, microwave potatoes [slightly underdone] for curried potato recipes. You can add a bit of virgin olive oil or butter. Or sprinkled with various fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, sage, rosemary or thyme.Containers – I use glass only – either round bottomed, or flat bottomed. One big difference with microwave cooking is that size matters – so you need to experiment and adjust times and cooking levels. Also the wattage of ovens varies and makes a big difference. On my current microwave I do almost all cooking at 8 [of 10] and most vegetables cook in less than 5′. Times are for portions for 3-4 people. Microwaving also preserves more vitamins and minerals than harsher methods like boiling and steaming. So usually only 1/4 cup of water is sufficient. Also, we like our veggies slightly crunchy, so add time if you prefer softer.Cover the dish with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the topMost vegetables can be blanched in 1′ in the microwave

How to microwave fresh vegetables

asparagus Allow 2-3′ for skinny ones, 5-8′ for thicker ones. You may need to trim the ends to fit in the dish. For thicker stalks, you can peel the lower third and get more consistent results.
squash For large squashes, like acorn or winter, either use 1 or 2 large pieces, or cut into 3″ squares. 8-10′ is normal here. For smaller squashes, especially when you can harvest smaller ones fresh, just cut into 1″ slices and microwave for about 3′

corn Place the entire unhusked corn cob in the microwave and cook for about 8′ for 3 ears.

garlic Not as tasty as roasted garlic, the microwave is also handy for peeling garlic – just put the cloves in and microwave for 1′. The skin should then come off easily.

carrots  Cut the carrots into 2″ pieces and cook about 5′  A quick stir fry with garlic and lemon juice is one way to complete this dish.

tomatoes If you want to peel and seed tomatoes, pop them in the microwave for 1-2″ and the skins will come off easier.

parsnips These cook a bit faster than carrots

potatoes Large potatoes take about 8-10′; smaller ones, or medium ones cut into quarters take 5-8′

beets  Chop off the tail and stems of beets, but not too close to the main root body, and you’ll get less bleeding. Medium beets can be cooked whole. Try 8-10′ for 4-6 medium beets with 1/4 cup of water. After cooking, place them on a plastic cutting board [easier to wash] and let cool. Then you can peel them – often the skins will slip off. To serve just cut them into the size you want, add a t of butter and microwave for 1′

peas  Shuck peas from pods, or use snap peas directly. Cook for 2-3′

green beans  Cut off tips and string if needed, then cook 4-6′ depending on how crisp you like them
For really frugal cooks, collect the water used when cooking and keep it in a bowl in the freezer, then add it to your stock.

Here’s another example of combining microwave and traditional methods:

Asian Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half.
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 T rice vinegar (can substitute white vinegar)
  • dash of sesame oil
  • 1 t peanut oil

Microwave Brussel sprouts for 5-8 minutes, with a 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the cooking dish.

Drain sprouts, add celery and bean sprouts and toss with seasonings.
Serve warm or cold

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