Microwave cooking

There's a workhorse sitting in your kitchen ready to deliver healthy, fast meals. It's time to dust off that microwave oven and watch what it can do!

For many cooks, a microwave is a saving grace. Compact and odor-free, every kitchen can benefit from a microwave. Relying on less oil or fat than frying, microwave cooking is one of the healthiest ways to cook, provided it's done correctly.

The basics

Always keep food covered when cooking in the microwave oven; this prevents splashing and keeps moisture in. Food cooks best on a carousel platform, as the rotation ensures even heating. Be sure to place the cooking container in the middle of the oven. When foods are not uniform in shape, such as chicken breasts or fish fillets, arrange so that thin portions are toward the center of the dish. Only use cookware that is made for use in a microwave oven. Plastic storage containers, take-out containers and other one-time-use containers should not be used in a microwave oven. Do not cook large cuts of meat on high power (100%). They should be cooked on medium power (50%) for longer time periods. Expect to hit the 'pause' button several times throughout the cooking time to stir contents. This ensures even cooking. Don't skip the standing period because the food will continue to cook for several minutes once removed from the microwave.
Vegetable city
Vegetables and your microwave oven are a match made in heaven — they remain crisp, keep their color and lose fewer nutrients when cooked this way. You'll need about three tablespoons of water per pound of vegetables and be sure to cut all your vegetables into equal-size pieces to ensure uniform cooking.
Quick, hot potato
To microwave a potato, simply scrub it clean, puncture with a fork once, place on waxed or parchment paper and cook on high for 5 minutes. Add 2-3 minutes to your cooking time for every extra potato (limit of four), let stand 2 minutes and enjoy! You can jazz it up a bit with a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream and drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.
Fast melt
Fast melt
Forget the frying pan and make a quick batch of quesadillas in the microwave. Place a single, large tortilla on a microwavable plate or a sheet of waxed paper, spread with salsa, sprinkle with low-fat cheese, add some shredded skinless barbecue chicken, cover with another tortilla and protect with another sheet of waxed paper. Microwave for 1 minute on high.
Fishy business
Place two 5 oz. salmon fillets in a shallow, microwavable dish. Season with salt and pepper, add one crushed garlic clove and drizzle with a tablespoon each of olive oil, lemon juice and white wine. Cook on high for 8-10 minutes or until edges are flaky. Let stand 2 minutes, then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and dig in.
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