Microwaving fresh beets preserves more nutrients and is much quicker than any other cooking method. And, if you know your microwave oven well enough to get the timing right, the beets always turn out just the way you want them.
To prepare beets for microwaving select the beets that are approximately the same size, or cut them into uniform-sized pieces so that they will cook evenly. Pierce beets’ skins in several places to prevent the steam from building up inside the beets and make them explode. You can use the juices that escape for sauces or marinades later on.
Prepare the pan making sure that any plate, pan or container you plan to use in the microwave is adequate to the task. Plastic melts down, paper can burn, and some types of glass might crack or shatter. Do not use any metal. You are safe with Pyrex or ovenproof porcelain. Generally, a 2-quart baking dish will do the job.
An 8 x 8 x 2-inch square glass dish is ideal with a lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, or a damp paper towel will do. Pyrex pie plates are great for steaming vegetables, and large bowls, or measuring cups, for boiling.
Cooking times may vary because every oven is different. It may take a few trials and errors before you know how long your microwave takes to make the beets the way you want them. Also, no matter what the recipe timing says, as soon as you can smell the beets, stop the heating and taste a piece, because they are close to ready.
Once the beets are done, it is extremely important to let the vegetables stand to finish cooking.
Microwaving works best for vegetables in quantities of about 1 pound; otherwise, the cooking can be uneven. Nevertheless, it is often faster to microwave two successive batches and mix them together than it is to cook a vegetable in one batch by a slower method.
To boil fresh beets in the microwave
Cut the prepared beets into quarters.
Place them in a microwavable bowl. Space the beets evenly on the plate or in the bowl.
Add one inch of water. Cover the bowl with a plate or drape it with a damp paper towel.
Microwave one beet on full power about 7 minutes, depending on the beet’s size. Add 2 minutes for each additional beet. Turn the beets over 180 degrees halfway through the cooking unless you have a rotating tray. Leave the plate or paper towel in place for 4 minutes. The beets will continue to cook during the rest period. Cool and peel.
You can microwave small to medium-size fresh beets whole, without cutting them. Use approximately the same timing, but make sure to turn the beets around once or twice from side to side so that they cook through evenly.
To cook three medium size beets in the microwave you need from 12 to 15 min. Press the blade of the knife against the beet to see if it is soft. Cool and peel.
Puncture the beets in several places with a sharp knife. If you forget, the beets will explode inside your oven splashing the red juice around (guaranteed you’ll remember the next time).
Place a paper towel on the bottom of the microwave and put the beets on top.
Microwave one beet on high for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on its size. Add 2 to 3 minutes of cooking for each additional beet. To ensure even cooking remove from the oven and wrap in foil – the beets will continue cooking inside the foil.
Let them rest for 3 to 5 minutes before unwrapping and peeling. Or, skip the foil and simply rotate the beets in the oven at 180 degrees, and cook for one to two minutes longer before removing and peeling.