We had a thousand-watt mission to demonstrate that cooks who use microwave ovens only to reheat coffee or to thaw and heat frozen foods are missing a fundamental point: The microwave can actually cook food.
By "cook" we mean deliver crisp textures and complex flavors associated with the dry heat of the much slower regular oven. We wanted a quick, moist meat loaf, for example, or a genuinely creamy risotto that takes half the stovetop time and requires half the amount of stirring.
First, you won't want to miss these Microwave Sweet Potato Chips. You'll need a mandoline to slice the potato thin enough to crisp. The results are delicious and easy, sans the hassle of the oven.
Cod with Fennel and Orange
This entrée cooks in 7 minutes, with very little cleanup. The bags we used (Ziploc) are dioxin-free and food-safe in the microwave.
Substitute pecans, walnuts, peanuts, or pine nuts for almonds, if you prefer.
Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
This risotto is not covered while microwaving. Be sure you are using at least a 2-quart bowl to allow plenty of room for the liquid to boil.
Everyday Meat Loaf
The meat loaf cooks in the microwave for just 8 minutes, a fraction of the time it takes for traditionally baked meat loaf. Broiling the cheese on top of the cooked meat loaf until it's brown and bubbly lends the dish a pleasing, oven-baked look.
Quick Breakfast Tostada
This hearty dish, with eggs, beans, and cheese, is good for any meal. Add a little cooked chicken or ground beef for a filling breakfast-for-dinner option, or cook the eggs ahead and pack each ingredient separately for an assemble-at-work lunch. It's also good for kids to make themselves, as everything cooks quickly in the microwave, no stove necessary.
Microwave Smashed Potatoes
If you’ve maxed out your oven and cooktop, let your microwave do the heavy lifting for smashed potatoes.
Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Fudge
Make the combination of peanut butter and chocolate even better by stirring in instant coffee granules and topping the fudge with chopped peanuts.
Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Baked Potato
Baking the potato in the microwave makes this dish a snap to prepare. Fontina, mozzarella, or even Parmesan would work in this dish. Serve with filet mignon, flank steak, or a seasonal green salad.
Soft Chicken Tacos
Everyone loves tacos. These easy-to-make soft tacos can be spicy or mild, depending on the type of salsa you choose. Serve with a tomato-and-onion salad.
Ham and Cheese Hash Browns
This recipe resembles a hearty potato hash and is a great use for leftover ham. Cooked entirely in the microwave, it's ready to eat in less than 15 minutes, so pair it with fresh fruit or a salad for a truly effortless dinner.
For an even shorter prep time, omit the braiding step. Cut salmon fillet into four (six-ounce) pieces, and cook as directed in braided method.
Microwave Bacon Brittle
Making brittle doesn't get much easier than this! Forget the stovetop and candy thermometer, this microwave masterpiece is ready in under an hour.