How to Steam Broccoli in the Microwave

Microwaves are suddenly having their day in the sun; last week Mark Bittman gave them a thumb's up in the New York Times. We also posted this silicone microwave steamer from Orka that promises you quick and healthy food from the microwave - even at the office.

We've been using the microwave for a long time, however, to cook vegetables quickly and easily. Here's the basics of steaming broccoli (or any vegetable, really) in the microwave.

1. Cut up the broccoli into bite-size florets. - If you want to eat the stalks make sure to cut them smaller than bite-sized and remove any really woody bits so everything cooks evenly.

2. Put all the broccoli in microwave-safe bowl and add water. - We like to use a ceramic bowl. For one pound of broccoli (about one head) add 2-3 tablespoons of water.

3. Cover tightly. We avoid plastic wrap when microwaving and use a ceramic or stoneware plate instead.

4. Microwave on HIGH (regular power) for 3-4 minutes. - Depending on your microwave's strength this should give you tender yet still slightly crispy broccoli - not mushy. Try at 2 1/2 minutes first, then check, re-cover and put back in if it's not done yet.

5. Remove lid carefully! Take the lid off so it stops steaming but be careful; the steam is hot and can burn you badly if you're not careful.

Sometimes we add a small pat of butter or a splash of soy sauce before steaming. We usually add salt and pepper after the broccoli has been cooked.

There's the basics - just in case you have never steamed your broccoli or other tough veggie in the microwave. It's easy, quick, and effective - plus it's virtually foolproof.