Thursday 27 September 2007

Microwaving veggies: try a paper bag!

Since my last post about the deliciousness of microwaved vegetables, I've spent a few hours experimenting with different cooking techniques for various lovely seasonal veggies, including fresh asparagus and broccoli, ears of sweetcorn, tiny new potatoes and frozen peas.

I've tried everything: putting the veggies naked on the turntable; placing them in a glass jug topped with an upturned plate; wrapping them in various things (clingfilm, sandwich paper, dry newspaper, wet newspaper, clingfilm); putting them in a bamboo steamer; even sealing them in a Tupperware container. All were good, but not one technique stood out as brilliant, until....

UNTIL... the white paper bag. I put a fistful of fat fresh asparagus spears into a plain white paper bag, added a tiny sprinkling of water, folded the top of the bag over once or twice, and microwaved on High for three minutes. To say that I nearly fainted when I tasted them, dipped deeply into a bowl of foaming lemon butter, is no exaggeration. Try the technique: you will be amazed at the results. The paper bag traps all the steamy flavour, allows the veggies to cook quickly, and keeps them moist and slightly springy - but never soggy. I then experimented with broccoli, sweet corn and sugar-snap peas, with the same excellent results.

Though I used white paper bags, I'm sure a plain brown paper bag would work just as well.


- Put the veggies into the paper bag immediately before you microwave them. If you leave them lying around in the bag, the paper might go soggy and split.

- Add a few flavourings to the bag. To my broccoli bag, I added a dash of Kikkoman soy sauce, a squeeze of lemon juice and a fresh garlic clove. To a paper bag of frozen peas, add a few sprigs of fresh mint and a lump of butter. A sprig of rosemary tucked into a bag of tiny new potatoes will impart a lovely resiny flavour.

- Instead of adding a splish of water to the bag, try a sprinkling of lemon juice, white wine or chicken stock.
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