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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.