Vegetables in the microwave

Vegetables cooked in the microwave oven, which cook quickly with very little water, taste almost garden fresh. Microwave cooking helps vegetables retain color and texture, resulting in an appetizing-looking dish.

The following ideas will help make your microwaved vegetables a success:

* Add little or no water to vegetables; usually the amount of water clinging to rinsed vegetables is enough for cooking.

* Cover container with plastic wrap to seal in moisture.

* Cut vegetables into uniform sizes to help them cook evenly.

* Arrange irregularly shaped vegetables, such as broccoli spears, so the denser parts are toward the outside of the cooking dish.

* Let the vegetables stand, still covered, for a little while after removing them from the microwave. The vegetables will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the oven, so undercook them slightly.

Here's a vegetable dish that is light and satisfying. Variety Vegetable Platter 2 carrots, sliced diagonally 2 cups broccoli flowerets 2 cups zucchini 2 1/2 cups cauliflowerets Cheese sauce (below)

Arrange vegetables in rings on 12- to 14-inch platter. Place carrot slices in ring on outside of platter, then cauliflower and broccoli. Arrange zucchini slices in center of platter.

Sprinkle vegetables with water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at high power 7 to 9 minutes, rotating every 3 to 4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Let stand while preparing sauce. Cheese Sauce 2 1/2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Place butter in 2-cup microwave-safe container. Microwave 30 to 45 seconds, or until melted. Stir in cheese and salt. Drain liquid from vegetables and pour sauce over vegetables. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

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