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The process used to microwave asparagus is simple and takes very little time. As opposed to just placing whole spears of asparagus on a plate and then cooking them in a microwave for several minutes, more favorable results can be garnered with a bit of preparation, including trimming the asparagus before it is cooked to remove the fibrous ends. Next, the asparagus should be placed in a shallow dish or bowl in a single layer. Placing some liquid in the bowl can help to keep the asparagus moist while it is cooking. The bowl then should be covered loosely and placed in the microwave for two or three minutes, until it has become tender but has not changed color dramatically or become mushy.
To properly microwave asparagus, better results can be achieved if the asparagus is trimmed before it is cooked. This involves separating the bottom of the spears, which tend to be very dense, fibrous and not pleasant to eat. The asparagus can be cut in half to do this, or each spear can be bent in half until it snaps at a natural breaking point between the fibrous bottom and the tender tops.
Making microwave asparagus mostly is about allowing the asparagus to cook in the steam and moisture generated as the microwave causes the water in the vegetable to evaporate. For this reason, the asparagus should be placed in a shallow dish or bowl so there is space for the steam to move around the vegetables. Simply using a flat, uncovered plate to microwave asparagus can cause the vegetables to cook unevenly and potentially dry out.
When placed in the bowl, the asparagus should be arranged in neat layers. From one to three layers is the most effective option. If too much asparagus is layered in the dish, then the vegetables might become too dense and will prevent the microwave from reaching the center pieces. The same concept applies to diced asparagus.
Once in the bowl, some liquid is required to help keep the asparagus moist. The mechanism used to microwave asparagus will cause water in the vegetables to evaporate, but having some liquid in the cooking dish will allow this moisture to be preserved and replenished in the spears. Just a few spoonfuls of plain water, vegetable or chicken stock, or white wine will work. The liquid also can be seasoned with salt and pepper or other spices, if desired.
The dish should be partially or loosely covered. This means placing a cover over the dish but leaving some small spaces where excess steam will be able to escape. Once covered, it should take only two or three minutes to microwave asparagus; when more time is required, the asparagus should be cooked in smaller 15- to 30-second increments. When done, the asparagus will be tender when tested with a fork but also should have some texture and spring.
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