It's a versatile veggie, so knowing how to prepare zucchini in a few different ways adds useful tools to your cooking arsenal. Zucchini is often grilled or sautéed to bring out its sweetness, but steaming it in the microwave is an even easier way to cook this vegetable. Steamed zucchini may even be preferable to some palates, especially those who have issues with textures. Controlling exactly how long the zucchini cooks allows you to make it as crisp or as mushy as you like.
How to Prepare Zucchini
There's no special prep method required for cooking zucchini in the microwave. Simply wash it, slice off the stem and cut it into pieces of equal size; there's no need to peel zucchini before eating it. Create pieces that are no larger than 1/2 inch thick to minimize cooking time. Don't add any seasonings at this point.
You may also use a vegetable spiralizer to prepare your dish. Zucchini noodles, a low-carb and gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta, can be steamed in the microwave if you're trying to avoid using any fat to cook the vegetable.
How to Steam Zucchini
There are two potential ways to steam zucchini in the microwave. The first is to create a single layer of zucchini pieces (preferably slices) on a microwave-safe plate. Cover the plate with a few paper towels that are wet but not dripping. The second is to put the zucchini pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, add enough water to cover the bottom 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the bowl and cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid.
The timing is the same with either method. How long you steam the zucchini depends on how much you're cooking at once and what texture you want to achieve. It's generally safe to start with two minutes at high heat and then test the zucchini with a fork. If it needs more cooking, microwave the zucchini for 30-second intervals until it's the right level of doneness for your taste, which may ultimately take five or more minutes.
Be especially cautious when steaming zucchini noodles. If they become mushy, they'll fall apart and cease to act as a noodle substitute. Just two minutes may be more than enough time to cook them, so check after one minute and cook in additional 20-second increments as needed.
Using Microwave Zucchini
It's very important to immediately drain the water from the bowl as soon as you decide your microwave zucchini is done. Allowing the zucchini to sit in that hot water, even for just a few minutes, will continue the cooking process and make the veggies too soft.
Once the steamed zucchini is done, it can be eaten warm or cold. This veggie can be a little bland, so start with some salt to bring out the subtle flavor. Steamed zucchini is a simple side dish when you squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, or it can be dressed up with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice and some red pepper flakes. Alternatively, mix steamed zucchini with cherry tomatoes, pesto, pasta and a protein of your choice for a quick, light dinner.