These days, microwaves are better than ever: They can bake like an oven and cook like a stovetop—in a fraction of the time. So why are you using yours just for nuking leftovers? Turn your machine into the multitasker it was meant to be. Ready? Hit start!
Lovin' Your Little Oven
Step away from the stove! Microwaves don’t cook like regular ovens, which radiate heat. Instead, they fire blasts of energy that activate molecules in food, so they’re often way faster. Make these four foods in a snap—with a zap.
Get tender, evenly cooked fish by micro- steaming: Place a fillet on a large piece of parchment and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice; top with fresh herbs. Fold paper over; crimp to seal. Microwave on high until fish is flaky, 1 to 3 minutes.
Want foolproof runny yolks every time? Pour 1 cup water into a 2-cup glass or ceramic bowl; crack in 2 eggs. Cover with parchment; microwave on high until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 11⁄2 to 2 minutes.
For perfectly crisp- tender asparagus, place 1 lb. trimmed asparagus spears in an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Add 1⁄4 cup water (add some lemon zest if you like); top with parchment and microwave on high until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
Get sizzling bacon with easy cleanup at the press of a button! On a paper towel–lined plate, arrange 8 oz. bacon slices; top with more paper towels. Microwave on high, rotating the plate halfway through, until crispy, 7 to 8 minutes.
Standing in front of it is dangerous. The word “radiation” is scary, but microwaves use a pretty harmless form of it that’s the same as what’s emitted by your TV or radio. Whew!
It kills nutrients in food. Nutrient loss occurs any time food gets heated. But since cook times are shorter, microwaving may retain more nutrients than other cooking methods do.
It cooks from the inside out. Nope, microwaves actually heat food from the outside in. But since they heat water molecules, if the food has more moisture in the center than on the surface (like a potato), the inside will cook faster.
With the right recipes, you can use the microwave to make every meal you eat, a fact that inspired the nonprofit Children’s Health Fund to create Microwave Chef to help homeless families whose only way to cook might be a microwave oven in a shelter kitchen. The cookbook offers 62 dishes (like the frittata below) that make it a breeze for anyone to cook a meal quickly, so download it (for free) yourself at childrenshealthfund.org—and if the site (or the book!) inspires you, consider supporting this worthy cause.
Cheese and Vegetable Frittata
Adapted from Microwave Chef
1 medium zucchini, cut into rounds
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup milk
1. In a 9-inch pie dish, arrange zucchini in an even layer; season with salt and pepper. Microwave on high until just softened, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions.
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk; pour over zucchini mixture. Microwave on high until the edges begin to set, about 2 minutes. Gently stir the edges toward the center, then microwave on high until the center is just set, about 5 to 7 minutes longer. Let stand 2 minutes before cutting into wedges.