With fall approaching, the kids will return to school and a host of extracurricular activities, leaving you more time pressed than ever. Your microwave oven can help you get dinner on the table faster. When I started my career at Good Housekeeping, most of my time was spent developing recipes for microwave cooking. I devised ways to turn out crispy cutlets, browned roasts, and full-flavored pasta dishes - even ones that started, believe it or not, with uncooked noodles. And yes, they were yummy, but somewhat contrived, and I rarely make any of them today. But along the way, I learned many great uses for the microwave oven both for prepping and real cooking that are part of my tried and true repertoire - beyond reheating coffee, popping popcorn, and warming up leftovers (all of which I do and know you do too).
Here are five of my all-time favorite tips and mini-recipes:
1. Steam veggies. Throw out your steamer. No matter how many times I test steamers of all kinds, nothing beats the zapper for speed and bright-colored, tender-crisp results! Nothing!
Related: Tips for Buying the Best Microwave
2. Toast nuts, coconuts, bread crumbs. And here's a secret: Don't spread them out in a dish or pie plate. Cook them in a glass measuring cup or bowl - that way the heat is concentrated for quick results. Don't forget to stir once or twice.
3. "Sauté" greens. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and broccoli rabe (all of which are super good for you) often require blanching before steaming to tenderize them. Cook them along with a little olive oil and garlic or onion in one step in the microwave. For a Sicilian twist, stir in a tablespoon of golden raisins and pine nuts (toasted) before serving.
4. "Roast" peppers. Combine pepper wedges, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes and nuke till tender. After cooking stir in one or two mashed anchovies. Nobody will believe you made them in the microwave.
Related: The True Meaning of Microwave Safe
5. Time it perfectly. Just about anything cooks in about 5 minutes a pound on High power and defrosts on Low power.
Need a new microwave oven? Read our guide to the newest models to find the one that's best for you.
For other great ideas for microwave cooking, see microwave recipes developed by our test kitchen.
For cooking stews and soups fast enough to serve on school nights, you need a pressure cooker. See which ones came out tops in our tests.
What are your microwave tips and recipes? Let me know in the comments!
- by Sharon Franke
More from Good Housekeeping: