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Why bother with pots and pans when you can microwave a pound of asparagus to perfection in less than ten minutes? Using a large microwavable container, lay the asparagus in a single layer with the tips facing the center. Cover and microwave on high for three to five minutes. Rearrange the asparagus, exchanging pieces on the outer edges of the container with ones in the middle. Cover again and cook for another three to five minutes until all the pieces are tender. Be careful not to burn yourself in the steam when you remove the cover from your cooked asparagus! (This trick also works for most other vegetables that have stems, like broccoli and cauliflower.)
You can steam other vegetables in the microwave, too. Using a plastic bag made for use in the microwave, add fresh cut vegetables and a few teaspoons of water. Don't completely seal the bag—you want steam to escape. Microwave for two or three minutes or until the veggies are tender.
You can make a crisp tossed salad a day in advance and free time to spend with friends and family just before your meal. Choose a large bowl and add lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, green and red peppers, carrots, and green onions. Don't add any tomatoes. Cover the salad completely with water and refrigerate. When it's time to serve, drain the salad well and add tomatoes. Your salad will be as fresh as if you just made it!
Produce sometimes goes brown after you have cut it for a vegetable tray or other recipe with fresh veggies. Stop vegetables from changing colors by dropping your cut veggies straight into lightly salted, cold water. Your produce will stay looking fresh until you serve it.
Cauliflower also often turns brown while cooking. All you need to do is add a spoonful of vinegar or fresh lemon juice to the cooking water to make cauliflower stay white and clean.
Most people just serve artichoke leaves with the option of dipping them in butter. Serve your artichokes with gourmet dressings. All you need to do is steam the artichokes until tender and dip the leaves in Hollandaise sauce, light mayonnaise blended with lemon juice, or plain yogurt mixed with Dijon mustard. It will be a surprising treat for your friends and family.
Impress everyone with a fancy asparagus salad that's unique and tasty but very easy to make.