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MICROWAVE

Like Most Vegetables, Broccoli Is Virtually Made for Quick Cooking

February 08, 1990|JEAN ANDERSON and ELAINE HANNA | Anderson and Hanna are nutritionists and cookbook authors specializing in microwave cookery

Vegetables, we've all been told, microwave magnificently. Quite so. And none better than broccoli.

Boiled the old-fashioned way, broccoli florets often wind up waterlogged. At least their delicate tips do, while their stems seem so raw and hard they skitter off the plate when you try to cut them.

Microwaved our way, broccoli cooks evenly--and to perfection. Its color remains intensely emerald; and as for its flavor, you'd swear that the broccoli had been picked minutes earlier.

GUIDELINES FOR MICROWAVING BROCCOLI

Trim away all coarse stalks and leaves, then divide each bunch of broccoli into florets 3 inches long and 2 inches wide.

Weigh florets, then use this handy table to compute number of servings.

Allow:

1/4 pound for 1 serving

1/2 pound for 2 servings

1 pound for 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds for 6 servings

Arrange florets in single layer in shallow, microwave-safe container. For 1 or 2 servings, use 9- or 10-inch pie plate and arrange florets spoke-fashion, one layer deep, with stems pointing outward. For 4 to 6 servings, use 11x7x2-inch container and place florets in single layer, again with stems pointing outward.

Add 1/4 cup water, cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH (100% power) according to the following timetable, just until tender-crisp, rotating container 180 degrees at half time or rearranging florets.

BROCCOLI TIMETABLE

1/4 pound 3 to 4 minutes

1/2 pound 5 to 7 minutes

1 pound 8 to 10 minutes

1 1/2 pounds 10 to 15 minutes

When broccoli is tender-crisp, let stand, covered, allowing 3 minutes for 6 servings and 2 for anything less. Drain broccoli well, season and serve.

BROCCOLI PARMIGIANA

3 to 4 1/2 cups hot cooked broccoli florets, well drained

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup chicken broth

Grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Dash ground nutmeg

1/2 cup soft white bread crumbs (leave crust on bread for color)

Arrange broccoli in shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart glass ceramic casserole at least 9 inches across. Set aside.

Melt butter in wax-paper-covered, microwave-safe 1-quart measure by microwaving on HIGH (100% power) 35 to 45 seconds. Blend in flour and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 30 seconds until foamy.

Gradually whisk in milk and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 minutes, whisking every 1 1/2 minutes, until sauce boils and thickens. Whisk in chicken broth, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Spoon sauce evenly over broccoli, cover with lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH 3 minutes, rotating casserole 180 degrees at half time.

Combine bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly over top. Transfer casserole to preheated broiler and broil 4 to 5 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: Artichoke hearts, cauliflower florets and asparagus tips may all be prepared this way. Simply substitute equal quantity of hot cooked, well-drained vegetable of choice. In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15%.

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