Microwave Vegetable Guide
Spicy Microwaved Vegetables with Corn, Potatoes, Spinach, Olive Oil,
and Chili Powder
The microwave oven is perhaps the most useful cooking appliance ever
invented for the vegetarian. The microwave excels at cooking vegetables
in very little time with minimal clean-up required afterwards.
Microwave cooking differs in techniques from conventional cooking. This
article explains how to cook a variety of vegetables in the microwave.
Along with the microwave oven, one needs suitable containers and
potholders or dish towels.
Containers for microwave cooking should have loosely fitting covers to
let steam escape. They should be made from materials that do not block
microwaves (i.e. no metal).
The best containers are made from ceramic with glass lids. These are
sold under the brand name CorningWare. Also good are glass bowls
with plastic lids sold under the brand name Pyrex. Containers
should be large enough to accommodate the vegetables, but not several
While plastic containers are useful for food storage, they are poorly
suited for microwave cooking since plastic chemicals may leach into hot
foods. Similarly, hot foods eventually will discolor plastic
containers. Plastic containers will do if nothing else is available.
Fresh vegetables should be peeled, sliced, and rinsed. Slices should be
similar in size with thicknesses of 1cm or less.
||Rinse and put the whole artichoke into a container.
||Slice into florets and rinse.
|Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
||Peel, slice, and rinse.
|Corn on the Cob
||Discard the husk, break into halves, and rinse.
||Cut off the stem, peel, and slice into cubes. Soak in water for a
few minutes, discarding any loose seeds. Drain.
|Fava Beans, Green Beans
||Slice to fit the container and rinse.
||Leaves require very little cooking. These should be chopped,
rinsed, and added late in the process of cooking other vegetables. Kale
can be wilted over already cooked vegetables.
||Squash grows its own container. Poke a few holes to let the steam
escape and put the whole squash in a bowl in the microwave. Due to the
thickness, cooking times will be longer than with other vegetables.
Slice after cooking.
||Remove most of the peel, slice into rounds, and rinse.
Frozen vegetables should be rinsed prior to microwaving. Frozen
vegetables require somewhat longer cooking times because they first must
Grains that cook quickly (couscous, oatmeal) can be prepared in the
microwave by adding a suitable amount of water. Cooking should be
monitored to prevent boil-over. Grains that need to simmer for a long
time (rice) are best cooked on the stove.
All food placed in the microwave should be wet. This is because
the microwave heats water, both outside and inside the vegetables.
Microwave cooking is steaming.
Cook the vegetables in a container with a loosely fitting cover. If the
microwave has a variable power setting, set it to 100%.
Cooking times depend on the quantity of food and the microwave's power
output. Small amounts of vegetables typically cook in 3-5 minutes;
medium amounts in 5-7 minutes; and large amounts in 8-12 minutes. One
can see the steam escaping and smell food.
Vegetables will not be fully cooked by the time the microwave turns off.
Let the vegetables sit, covered, for a few minutes. Cooking completes
using residual heat.
Different types of vegetables can be cooked together as long as the
pieces are not too different in size. I regularly cook entire meals in
Excess water from certain vegetables (eggplant, zucchini) should be
At this point, one has a bowl of steamed vegetables. The last step is
to add oil and seasonings.
Oils are selected based on flavor rather than ability to withstand high
temperatures. I like to drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over vegetables.
Alternatively, I use unrefined coconut oil if I want a heavier dish.
Any seasonings can be used. I like chili powder, hot sauce, garlic, and
soy sauce. These turn bland microwaved vegetables into
spicy microwaved vegetables. Just add and stir.
Dinner is now ready, often in under 10 minutes.
In my experience, cooking with a microwave oven poses far fewer safety
risks than cooking over a stove.
Microwaves are electromagnetic waves like radio waves and visible light.
They are present inside the oven only during cooking. The door's
perforated metal screen is transparent to visible light (wavelength
0.5um) but opaque to microwaves (wavelength 12cm). When the oven turns
off, no microwave energy remains.
Food cooked in the microwave will be steaming hot. Use a potholder or
utensil to carefully lift the lid.
With proper techniques, the microwave oven can do much more than reheat
I do most of my cooking in the microwave. I consider the microwave to
be essential for the vegetarian.